ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
HOMILIES 77-88 ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN
[The Oxford Translation Edited by Rev. Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D.]
HOMILY LXXVII: JOHN XV. 11, 12.
These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you."
[1.] ALL things good then have their reward, when they arrive at their proper end, but if they be cut off midway, shipwreck ensues. And as a vessel of immense burden, if it reach not the harbor in time, but founder in the midst of the sea, gains nothing from the length of the voyage, but even makes the calamity greater, in proportion as it has endured more toils; so are those souls which fall back when near the end of their labors, and faint in the midst of the struggle. Wherefore Paul said, that glory, and honor, and peace, should meet those who ran their course with patient continuance in well-doing. A thing which Christ now effecteth in the case of the disciples. (Rom. ii. 7.) For since He had accepted them, and they rejoiced in Him, and then the sudden coming of the Passion and His sad words were likely to cut short their pleasure after having conversed with them sufficiently to soothe them, He addeth, "These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be fulfilled"; that is, "that ye might not be separated from Me that ye might not cut short your course. Ye were rejoicing in Me, and ye were rejoicing exceedingly, but despondency hath fallen upon you. This then. I remove, that joy may come at the last, showing that your present circumstances are fit cause, not for pain, but for pleasure. I saw you offended; I despised you not; I said not, 'Why do ye not continue noble?' But I spake to you words which brought comfort with them. And so I wish ever to keep you in the same love. Ye have heard concerning a kingdom, ye rejoiced. In order therefore that your joy might be fulfilled, I have spoken these things unto you." But" this is the commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you." Seest thou that the love of God is intertwined with Our own, and connected like a sort of chain? Wherefore it sometimes saith that there are two commandments, sometimes only one. For it is not possible that the man who hath taken hold on the first should not possess the second also. For at one time He said, "On this the Law and the Prophets hang"(1) (Matt. xxii. 40); and at another, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matt. vii. 12.) And, "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." (Rom. xiii. 10.) Which He saith also here; for if to abide proceeds from love, and love from the keeping of the commandments, and the commandment is that we love one another, then the abiding in God proceeds from love towards each other. And He doth not simply speak of love, but declareth also the manner, "As I have loved you." Again He showeth, that His very departure was not of hatred but of love. "So that I ought rather to be admired on this account, for I lay down My life for you."(2) Yet nowhere doth He say this in these words, but in a former place, by sketching the best shepherd, and here by exhorting them, and by showing the greatness of His love, and Himself, who He is. But wherefore doth He everywhere exalt love? Because this is the mark of the disciples, this the bond of virtue.(3) On this account Paul saith such great things of it, as being a genuine disciple of Christ, and having had experience of it.
Ver. 14, 15. "Ye are My friends(4)--henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth. Ye are My friends, for(5) all things which I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you."
How then saith He, "I have many things to tell you, but ye cannot bear them now"? (c. xvi. 12.) By the "all" and the "hearing" He showeth nothing else, but that He uttered nothing alien, but only what was of the Father. And since to. speak of secrets appears to be the strongest proof of friendship, "ye have," He saith, "been deemed worthy even of this communion." When however He saith "all," He meaneth, "whatever things it was fit that they should hear." Then He putteth also another sure proof of friendship, no common one. Of what sort was that?
Ver. 16. "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have: chosen you."
That is, I ran upon your friendship. And He stayed not here, but,
"I set you,"(6) He saith, (that is, "I planted you,") "that ye should go," (He still useth the metaphor of the vine,) that is, "that ye should extend yourselves"; "and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain."
"Now if your fruit remain, much more shall ye. For I have not only loved you," He saith, "but have done you the greatest benefits, by extending your branches through all the world." Seest thou in how many ways He showeth His love? By telling them things secret, by having in the first instance run to meet their friendship. by granting them the greatest blessings, by suffering for them what then He suffered. After this, He showeth that He also remaineth continually with those who shall bring forth fruit; for it is needful to enjoy His aid, and so to bear fruit.
"That whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My Name, He may give it you."
Yet it is the part of the person asked to do the thing asked; but if the Father is asked, how is it that the Son doeth it? It is that thou mayest learn that the Son is not inferior to the Father.
Ver. 17. "These things I command you, that ye love one another."
That is, "It is not to upbraid, that I tell you that I lay down My life for you, or that I ran to meet you, but in order to lead you into friendship." Then, since the being persecuted and insulted by the many, was a grievous and intolerable thing, and enough to humble even a lofty soul, therefore, after having said ten thousand things first, Christ entered upon this matter.(7) Having first smoothed their minds, He thus proceedeth to these points, showing that these things too were for their exceeding advantage, as He had also shown that the others were. For as He had told them that they ought not to grieve, but rather to rejoice, "because I go to the Father," (since He did this not as deserting but as greatly loving them,) so here also He showeth that they ought to rejoice, not grieve. And observe how He effecteth this. He said not, "I know that the action is grievous, but bear for My sake, since for My sake also ye suffer," for this reason was not yet sufficient to console them; wherefore letting this pass, He putteth forward another. And what is that? It is that this thing(1) would be a sure proof of their former virtue. "And, on the contrary, ye ought to grieve, not because ye are hated now but if ye were likely to be loved"; for this He implieth by saying,
Ver. 19. "If ye were of the world, the world would love its own."(2)
So that had ye been loved it would be very clear that ye had shown forth signs of wickedness. Then, when by saying this first, He did not effect his purpose, He goeth on again with the discourse.
Ver. 20. "The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you."(3)
He showed that in this point they would be most His imitators. For while Christ was in the flesh, men had war with Him, but when He was translated, the battle came in the next place upon them. Then because owing to their fewness they were terrified at being about to encounter the attack of so great a multitude, He raiseth their souls by telling them that it was an especial subject of joy that they were hated by them; "For so ye shall share My sufferings. Ye should not therefore be troubled, for ye are not better than I," as I before told you, "The servant is not greater than his lord." Then there is also a third source of consolation, that the Father also is insulted together with them.
Ver. 21. "But all these things will they do unto you for My Name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me."
That is, "they insult Him also." Besides this, depriving those others of excuse, and putting also another source of comfort, He saith,
Ver. 22. "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin."(4)
Showing that they shall do unjustly both what they do against Him and against them. "Why then didst Thou(5) bring us into such calamities? Didst Thou not foreknow the wars, the hatred?" Therefore again He saith,
Ver. 23. "He that hateth Me, hateth My Father also."
From this also proclaiming beforehand no small punishment against them. For, since they continually pretended that they persecuted Him on account of the Father, to deprive them of this excuse He spake these words. "They have no excuse. I gave them the teaching which is by words, that by works I added, according to the Law of Moses, who bade all men obey one speaking and doing such things, when he should both lead to piety, and exhibit the greatest miracles."(6) And He spake not simply of "signs," but,
Ver. 24. "Which none other man did."(7) And of this they themselves are witnesses, speaking in this way; "It was never so seen in Israel" (Matt. ix. 33); and, "Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind" (c. ix. 32); and the matter of Lazarus was of the same kind, and all the other acts the same, and the mode of wonder-working new, and all beyond(8) thought. "Why then," saith one, "do they persecute both Thee and us?" "Because ye are not of the world. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own." (Ver. 19.) He first remindeth them of the words which He spake also to His own brethren (c. vii. 7); but there he spake more by way of a reflection,(9) lest He should offend them, while here, on the contrary, He revealed all. "And how is it clear that it is on this account that we are hated?" "From what was done to Me. For, tell Me, which of My words or deeds could they lay hold on, that they would not receive Me?" Then since the thing would be astounding to us, He telleth the cause; that is, their wickedness. And He stayeth not here either, but introduceth the Prophet (Ps. xxxv. 19; lxix. 4), showing him proclaiming before of old time, and saying, that,
Ver. 25. "They hated Me without a cause.''(10)
[3.] Which Paul doth also. For when many wondered how that the Jews believed not, he brings in Prophets foretelling it of old, and declaring the cause; that their wickedness and pride were the cause of their unbelief. "Well then; if they kept not Thy saying, neither will they keep ours; if they persecuted Thee, therefore they will persecute us also; if they saw signs, such as none other man wrought; if they heard words such as none other spake, and profited nothing; if they hate Thy Father and Thee with Him, wherefore," saith one, "hast Thou sent us in among them? How after this shall we be worthy of belief? which of our kindred will give- heed to us?" That they may not therefore be troubled by such thoughts, see what sort of comfort he addeth.
Ver. 26, 27. "When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me. And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning."
"He shall be worthy of belief, for He is the Spirit of Truth." On this account He called It not "Holy Spirit," but "Spirit of Truth." But the, "proceedeth from the Father," showeth that He(1) knoweth all things exactly, as Christ also saith of Himself, that "I know whence come and whither I go" (c. viii. 14), speaking in that place also concerning truth. "Whom will send." Behold, it is no longer the Father alone, but the Son also who sendeth. "And ye too," He saith, "have a right to be believed, who have been with Me, who have not heard from others." Indeed, the Apostles confidently rely on this circumstance, saying, "We who did eat and drink with Him." (Acts x. 41.) And to show that this was not merely said to please, the Spirit beareth witness to the words spoken. (Acts x. 44.)
Ch. xvi. ver. 1. "These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended."
That is, "when ye see many disbelieve, and yourselves ill-treated."
Ver. 2. "They shall put you out of the synagogues."
(For "the Jews had already agreed, that if any one should confess Christ, he should be put out of the synagogues"--c. ix. 22.)
"Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service."
"They shall so seek after" your murder, as of an action pious and pleasing to God." Then again He addeth the consolation,
Ver. 3. "And these things will they do,(3) because they have not known the Father, nor Me."
"It is sufficient for your comfort that ye endure these things for My sake, and the Father's." Here He remindeth them of the blessedness of which He spake at the beginning, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven." (Matt. v. 11, 12.)
Ver. 4. "These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember them."(4)
"So, judging from these words, deem the rest also trustworthy. For ye will not be able to say, that I flatteringly told you only those things which would please you, nor that the words were words of deceit; for one who intended to deceive, would not have told you beforehand of matters likely to turn you away. I have therefore told you before, that these things might not fall upon you unexpectedly, and trouble you; and for another reason besides, that ye might not say, that I did not foreknow that these things would be. Remember then that I have told you." And indeed the heathen always covered their persecutions of them by a pretense of their wickedness, driving them out as corrupters; but this did not trouble the disciples who had heard beforehand, and knew for what they suffered. The cause of what took place was sufficient to rouse their courage. Therefore He everywhere handleth this, saying, "they have not known Me"; and, for My sake they shall do it"; and, "for My Name's sake, and for the Father's sake"; and, "I suffered first"; and, "from no just cause they dare these things."
[4.] Let us too consider these things in our temptations, when we suffer anything from wicked men, "looking to the Beginner(5) and Finisher of our faith" (Heb. xii. 2), and considering that it is by wicked men, and that it is for virtue's sake, and for His sake. For if we reflect on these things, all will be most easy and tolerable. Since if one suffering for those he loves is even proud of it, what feeling of things dreadful will he have who suffers for the sake of God? For if He, for our sake, calleth that shameful thing, the Cross, "glory" (c. xiii. 31), much more ought we to be thus disposed. And if we can so despise sufferings, much more shall we be able to despise riches, and covetousness. We ought then, when about to endure anything unpleasant, to think not of the toils but of the crowns; for as merchants take into account not the seas only, but also the profits, so ought we to reckon on heaven and confidence towards God. And if the getting more seem a pleasant thing, think that Christ willeth it not, and straightway it will appear displeasing. And if it be grievous to you to give to the poor, stay not your reckoning at the expense, but straightway transport your thoughts to the harvest which results from the sowing; and when it is hard to despise the love of a strange woman, think of the crown which comes after the struggle, and thou shalt easily bear the struggle. For if fear diverts a man from unseemly things, much more should the love of Christ. Difficult is virtue; but let us cast around her form the greatness of the promise of things to come. Indeed those who are virtuous, even apart from these promises, see her beautiful in herself, and on this account go after her, and work because it seems good to God, not for hire; and they think it a great thing to be sober-minded, not in order that they may not be punished, but because God hath commanded it. But if any one is too weak for this, let him think of the prizes. So let us do in respect of alms-doing, let us pity our fellow-men, let us not, I entreat,(1) neglect them when perishing with hunger. How can it be otherwise than an unseemly thing, that we should sit at the table laughing and enjoying ourselves, and when we hear others wailing as they pass through the street, should not even turn at their cries, but be wroth with them, and call them "cheat"? "What meanest thou, man? Doth any one plan a cheat for a single loaf of bread?" "Yes," saith some one. Then in this case above all let him be pitied; in this case above all let him be delivered from his need. Or if thou art not minded to give, do not insult either; if thou wilt not save the wreck, do not thrust it into the gulf. For consider, when thou thrustest away the poor man who comes to thee, who thou wilt be when thou callest upon God. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matt. vii. 2.) Consider how he departs, crushed, bowed down, lamenting; besides his poverty having received also the blow from your insolence. For if ye count the begging a curse, think what a tempest it makes, begging to get nothing, but to go away insulted. How long shall we be like wild beasts, and know not nature itself through greediness? Many groan at these words; but I desire them not now, but always, to have this feeling of compassion. Think, I pray you, of that day when we shall stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, when we shall beg for mercy, and Christ, bringing them forward, shall say, "For the sake of a single loaf, of a single obol, so great a surge did ye raise in these souls!" What shall we reply? What defense shall we make? To show that He will bring them forward, hear what He saith; "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of these, ye did it not to Me." (Matt. xxv. 45.) They will no more say anything to us, but God on their behalf will upbraid us. Since the rich man saw Lazarus too,(2) and Lazarus said nothing to him, but Abraham spake for him; and thus it will be in the case of the poor who are now despised by us. We shall not see them stretching out their hands in pitiful state, but being in rest; and we shall take the state which was theirs (and would that it were that state only, and not one much more grievous) as a punishment. For neither did the rich man desire to be filled with crumbs "there," but was scorched and tormented sharply, and was told, "Thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things." (Luke xvi. 25.) Let us not then deem wealth any great thing; it will help us on our way to punishment, if we take not heed, just as, if we take heed, poverty also becomes to us an addition of enjoyment and rest. For we both put off our sins if we bear it with thankfulness, and gain great boldness before God.
[5.] Let us then not be ever seeking security here, in order that we may enjoy security there; but let us accept the labors which are in behalf of virtue, and cut off superfluities, and seek nothing more than we need, and spend all our substance on those who want. Since what excuse can we have, when God promiseth heaven to us, and we will not even give Him bread? when He indeed for thee maketh the sun to rise, and supplieth all the ministry of the Creation, but thou dost not even give Him a garment, nor allow Him to share thy roof? But why speak I of sun and moon? He hath set His Body before thee, He hath given thee His Precious Blood; and dost thou not even impart to Him of thy cup? But hast thou done so for once? This is not mercy; as long as, having the means, thou helpest not, thou hast not yet fulfilled the whole duty. Thus the virgins who had the lamps, had oil, but not in abundance. Why, thou oughtest, even didst thou give from thine own, not to be so miserly, but now when thou givest what is thy Lord's, why countest thou every little? Will ye that I tell you the cause of this inhumanity? When men get together their wealth through greediness, these same are slow to give alms; for one who has learnt so to gain, knows not how to spend. For how can a man prepared for rapine adapt himself to its contrary? He who takes from others, how shall he be able to give up his own to another? A dog accustomed to feed on flesh cannot guard the flock; therefore the shepherds kill such. That this be not our fate, let us refrain from such feasting. For these men too feed on flesh, when they bring on death by hunger. Seest thou not how God hath allowed to us all things in common? If amid riches He hath suffered men to be poor, it is for the consolation of the rich, that they may be able by showing mercy towards them to put off their sins. But thou even in this hast been cruel and inhuman; whence it is evident, that if thou hadst received this same power in greater things, thou wouldest have committed ten thousand murders, and wouldest have debarred men from light, and from life altogether.(1) That this might not take place, necessity hath cut short insatiableness in such matters.
If ye are pained when ye hear these things, much more I when I see them taking place. How long shalt thou be rich, and that man poor? Till evening, but no farther; for so short is life, "and all things so near their end,(2) and all things henceforth so stand at the door, that the whole must be deemed but a little hour. What need hast thou of bursting a storehouses, of a multitude of domestics and house-keepers? Why hast thou not ten thousand proclaimers of thy almsdoing? The storehouse utters no voice, yet will it bring upon thee many robbers; but the storehouses of the poor will go up to God Himself, and will make thy present life sweet, and put away all thy sins, and thou shalt gain glory from God, and honor from men. Why then grudgest thou thyself such good things? For thou wilt not do so much good to the poor, as to thyself, when thou benefitest them. Thou wilt right their present state; but for thyself thou wilt lay up beforehand the glory and confidence which shall be hereafter. And this may we all obtain, by the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be the glory and the might for ever. Amen.
HOMILY LXXVIII: JOHN xvi. 4-6.
These things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go My way to Him that sent Me; and none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart."
[1.] GREAT is the tyranny of despondency, and much courage do we need so as to stand manfully against the feeling, and after gathering from it what is useful, to let the superfluous go. It hath somewhat useful; for when we ourselves or others sin, then only is it good to grieve; but when we fall into human vicissitudes, then despondency is useless. And now when it has overthrown the disciples who were not yet perfect, see how Christ raiseth them again by His rebuke. They who before this had asked Him ten thousand questions, (for Peter said, "Whither goest Thou?" [c. xiii. 36]; and Thomas, "We know not whither Thou goest, and how can we know the way?" [c. xiv. 5 and 8]; and Philip, "Show us Thy Father";) these men, I say, now hearing, "they will put you out of the synagogues," and "will hate you," and "whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service," were so cast down as to be struck dumb, so that they spake nothing to Him. This then He maketh a reproach to them, and saith, "These things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you; but now I go unto Him that sent Me, and none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou? but because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart." For a dreadful thing is immoderate sorrow, dreadful and effective of death. Wherefore Paul said, "Lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up by overmuch sorrow." (2 Cor. ii. 7.)
"And these things," saith He, "I told you not at the beginning." Why did He not tell them at the beginning? That none might say that He spake guessing from the ordinary course of events. And why did He enter on a matter of such unpleasantness? "I knew these things," He saith, "from the beginning, and spake not of them; not because I did not know them, but 'because I was with you.'" And this again was spoken after a human manner, as though He had said, "Because ye were in safety, and it was in your power to question Me when ye would, and all the storm blew upon Me, and it was superfluous to tell you these things at the beginning." "But did He not tell them this? Did He not call the twelve, and say unto them, 'Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake,' and, 'they shall scourge you in the synagogues'? (Matt. x. 18, 17). How then saith He, 'I told you not at the beginning'?" Because He had proclaimed before the scourgings and bringing before princes, still not that their death should appear so desirable that the action should even be deemed a service to God. For this more than anything was suited to terrify them, that they were to be judged as impious and corrupters. This too may be said, that in that place He spake of what they should suffer from the Gentiles, but here He hath added in a stronger way the acts of the Jews also, and told them that it was at their doors.
"But now I go to Him that sent Me, and no man of you saith, Whither goest Thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart." It was no slight comfort to them to learn that He knew the excess of their despondency. For they were beside themselves from the anguish caused by their being left by Him, and from their awaiting the terrible things which were to come, since they knew not whether they should be able to bear them manfully. "Why then after this did He not tell them that they bad been vouchsafed the Spirit?" That thou mightest learn that they were exceedingly virtuous. For if, when they had not yet been vouchsafed the Spirit, they started not back, though overwhelmed with sorrow, consider what soft of men they were likely to be after having enjoyed the grace.(1) If they had heard this at that time, and so had endured, we should have attributed the whole to the Spirit, but now it is entirely the fruit of their own state of mind, it is a clear manifestation of their love for Christ, who applieth a touchstone to their mind as yet defenseless.
Ver. 7. "But I tell you the truth."(2)
Observe how He consoleth them again. "I speak not," He saith," to please you, and although you be grieved ten thousand fold, yet must ye hear what is for your good; it is indeed to your liking that I should be with you, but what is expedient for you is different. And it is the part of one caring for others, not to be over gentle with his friends in matters which concern their interests, or to lead them away from what is good for them."
"For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come."(3)
What here say those who hold not the fitting opinion concerning the Spirit? Is it "expedient" that the master depart, and the servant come? Seest thou how great is the honor of the Spirit?
"But if I depart, I will send Him unto you." And what the gain?
Ver. 8. "He, when He is come, will reprove(4) the world."(5)
That is, "they shall not do these things unpunished if He come. For indeed, the things that have been already done, are sufficient to stop their mouths; but when these things are also done by Him, when doctrines are more perfect and miracles greater, much more shall they be condemned when they see such things done in My Name, which make the proof of the Resurrection more certain. For now they are able to say, 'this is the carpenter's son, whose father and mother we know'; but when they see the bands of death loosed, wickedness cast out, natural lameness straightened, devils expelled, abundant supply of the Spirit, and all this effected by My being called on, what will they say? The Father hath borne witness of Me, and the Spirit will bear witness also." Yet He bare witness at the beginning. Yea, and shall also do it now. But the, "will convince,"
Ver. 9. "Of sin"(6)
This meaneth, "will cut off all their excuses, and show that they have transgressed unpardonably."
Ver. 10. "Of righteousness, because I go to the(7) Father, and ye see Me no more."
That is, "I have exhibited a blameless(8) life, and this is the proof, that, 'I go to the Father.'" For since they continually urged this against Him, that He was not from God, and therefore called Him a sinner and transgressor, He saith, that the Spirit shall take from them this excuse also. "For if My being deemed not to be from God, showeth Me to be a transgressor, when the Spirit shall have shown that I am gone thither, not merely for a season, but to abide there, (for the, 'Ye see Me no more,' is the expression of one declaring this,) what will they say then?" Observe how by these two things, their evil suspicion is removed; since neither doth working miracles belong to a sinner, (for a sinner cannot work them,) nor doth the being with God continually belong to a sinner. "So that ye can(9) no longer say, that 'this man is a sinner,' that 'this man is not from God.'"
Ver. 11. "Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged."
Here again He mooteth the argument concerning righteousness, that He had overthrown His opponent. Now had He been a sinner, He could not have overthrown him; a thing which not even any just man had been strong enough to do. "But that he hath been condemned through Me, they shall know who trample on him hereafter, and who clearly know My Resurrection, which is the mark of Him who condemneth him. For he was not able to hold Me. And whereas they said that I had a devil, and that I was a deceiver, these things also shall hereafter appear to be false;(10) for I could not have prevailed against him, had I been subject to sin; but now he is condemned and cast out."
[2.] Ver. 12. "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."
"Therefore it is expedient for you that I depart, if ye then will bear them when I departed." "And what hath come to pass? the Spirit greater than Thou, that now indeed we bear not, but It will fit us to bear? Is It working more powerful and more perfect?" "Not so; for He too shall speak My words." Wherefore He saith,
Ver. 13-15.(1)"He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine."(2)
For since He had told them, that "'He shall teach you, and bring to your remembrance (c. xiv. 26), and shall comfort you in your afflictions," (which He Himself did not,) and that "it is expedient for you that I should depart" (ver. 7), and that He should come, and, "'now ye are not able to bear' (ver. 12), but then ye shall be able," and, that "He shall lead you into all truth" (ver. 13); lest hearing these things they should suppose the Spirit to be the greater, and so fall into an extreme opinion of impiety, therefore He saith, "He shall receive of Mine," that is, "whatsoever things I have told you, He shall also tell you." When He saith, "He shall speak nothing of Himself," He meaneth, "nothing contrary, nothing of His own opposed to My words." As then in saying respecting Himself, "I speak not of Myself" (c. xiv. 10), He meaneth that He speaketh nothing beside what the Father saith, nothing of His own against Him, or differing from Him, so also with respect to the Spirit. But the, "of Mine," meaneth, "of what I know," "of My own knowledge"; "for the knowledge of Me and of the Spirit is one."
"And He will tell you things to come." He excited their minds, for the race of man is for nothing so greedy,(3) as for learning the future. This, for instance, they continually asked Him, "Whither goest Thou?" "Which is the way?" To free them therefore from this anxiety, He saith, "He shall foretell you all things, so that ye shall not meet with them without warning."
"He shall glorify Me." How? "In My name He shall grant His inward workings." For since at the coming of the Spirit they were about to do greater miracles, therefore, again introducing the Equality of Honor, He saith, "He shall glorify Me."
What meaneth He by, "all truth"? for this also He testifieth of Him, that "He shall guide us into all truth." (Ver. 13.) Because He was clothed with the flesh, and because He would not seem to speak concerning Himself, and because they did not yet know clearly concerning the Resurrection, and were too imperfect, and also because of the Jews, that they might not think they were punishing Him as a transgressor; therefore He spake no great thing continually, nor plainly drew them away from the Law. But when the disciples were cut off from them,(4) and were for the future without; and when many were about to believe, and to be released from their sins; and when there were others who spake of Him, He with good reason spake not great things concerning Himself. "So that it proceeded not from ignorance of Mine," He saith, "that I told you not what I should have told you, but from the infirmity of the hearers." On this account having said, "He shall lead you into all truth," He added, "He shall not speak of Himself." For to show that the Spirit needeth not teaching, hear Paul saying, "So also the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." (1 Cor. ii. 11.) "As then the spirit of man, not learning from another, knoweth; so also the Holy Spirit 'shall receive of Mine,'" that is, "shall speak in unison with what is Mine."
"All things that the Father hath are Mine." "Since then those things are Mine, and He shall speak from the things of the Father, He shall speak from Mine."
[3.] "But why did not the Spirit come before He departed?" Because the curse not having yet been taken away, sin not yet loosed, but all being yet subject to vengeance, He could not come. "It is necessary then," saith He, "that the enmity be put away, that we be reconciled to God, and then receive that Gift." But why saith He, "I will send Him"? (Ver. 7.) It meaneth, "I will prepare you beforehand to receive Him." For, how can that which Is everywhere, be "sent"? Besides, He also showeth the distinction of the Persons. On these two accounts He thus speaketh; and also, since they were hardly to be drawn away from Himself, exhorting them to hold fast to the Spirit, and in order that they might cherish It. For He Himself was able to have wrought these things, but He concedeth to the Spirit(5) the working of miracles,(6) on this account, that they might understand His(7) dignity. For as the Father could have brought into being things which are, yet the Son did so, that we might understand His power, so also is it in this case. On this account He Himself was made Flesh, reserving the inward working(8) for the Spirit, shutting up the mouths of those who take the argument of His ineffable love for an occasion of impiety. For when they say that the Son was made flesh because He was inferior to the Father, we will reply to them, "what then will ye say of the Spirit?" He took not the flesh, and yet certainly on this account ye will not call Him greater than the Son, nor the Son inferior to Him Therefore, in the case of baptism also the Trinity is included. The Father is able to effect the whole, as is the Son, and the Holy Ghost; yet, since concerning the Father no man doubts, but the doubt was concerning the Son, and the Holy Ghost, They are included in the rite, that by Their community in supplying those unspeakable blessings, we may also fully learn Their community in dignity. For that both the Son is able by Himself to do that which in the case of baptism(1) He is able to do with the Father, and the Holy Ghost the same, hear these things said plainly. For to the Jews He said, "That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins" (Mark ii. 10); and again, "That ye may become children of light" (c. xii. 36): and, "I give to them eternal life." (c. x. 28.) Then after this, "That they might have life, and might have it more abundantly." (c. x. 10.) Now let us see the Spirit also performing the same thing. Where can we see it? "But the manifestation of the Spirit," it saith, "is given to every man to profit withal" (1 Cor. xii. 7; c. vi. 63); He then that giveth these things, much more remitteth sins. And again, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth"; and, "Shall quicken you(2) by His Spirit which dwelleth in you" (Rom. viii. 11); and, "The Spirit is Life because of righteousness" (Rom. viii. 10); and, "If ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the Law." (Gal. v. 18.) "For ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption." (Rom. viii. 15.) All the wonders too which they then wrought, they wrought at the coming of the Spirit. And Paul writing to the Corinthians, said, "But ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,(8) and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. vi. 11.) Since then they had heard many things of the Father, and had seen the Son work many things, but as yet knew nothing clearly of the Spirit, that Spirit doeth miracles, and bringeth in the perfect knowledge. But (as I said before) that He may not thence be supposed to be greater, on this account Christ saith, "Whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come." Since, if this be not so, how could it be otherwise than absurd, if He was about to hear then, and on account of those who were being made disciples? For according to you,(4) He would not even then know, except on account of those who were about to hear. What could be more unlawful than this saying? Besides, what would He have to hear? Did He not speak(5) all these things by the Prophets? For if He was about to teach concerning the dissolution of the Law, it had been spoken of: if concerning Christ, His Divinity and the Dispensation, these had been spoken of also. What could He say more dearly after this?
"And shall show you things to come." Here most of all Christ showeth His(6) Dignity, for to foretell things to come is especially the property of God. Now if He(7) also learn this from others, He will have nothing more than the Prophets, but here Christ declareth a knowledge brought into exact accordance with God, that it is impossible that He should speak anything else. But the, "shall receive of Mine," meaneth, "shall receive, either of the grace(8) which came into My Flesh, or of the knowledge which I also have, not as needing it, nor as learning it from another, but because it is One and the same." "And wherefore spake He thus, and not otherwise?" Because they understand not yet the word concerning the Spirit, wherefore He provideth for one thing only, that the Spirit should be believed and received by them, and that they should not be offended. For since He had said, "One is your Teacher, even Christ" (Matt. xxiii. 10), that they might not deem that they should disobey Him in obeying the Spirit, He saith, "His teaching and Mine are One; of what I should have taught, of those things shall He also speak. Do not suppose His words are other than Mine, for those words are Mine, and confirm My opinion.(9) For One is the will of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Thus also He willeth us to be, when He saith, "That they may be one, as Thou and I are One."(10) (c. xvii. 11.)
[4.] There is nothing equal to unanimity and concord; for so one is manifold. If two or ten are of one mind, the one is one no longer, but each one is multiplied tenfold, and thou wilt find the one in the ten, and the ten in the one; and if they have an enemy, he who attacks the one, as having attacked the ten, is vanquished; for he is the mark not for one, but for ten opponents.(11) Is one in want? No, he is not in want, for he is wealthy in his greater part, that is, in the nine; and the needy part, the lesser, is concealed by the wealthy part, the greater. Each of these hath twenty hands, twenty eyes, and as many feet. For he sees not with his own eyes alone, but with those of others; he walks(12) not with his own feet alone, but with those of others; he works not with his own hands alone, but with theirs. He hath ten souls, for not only doth he take thought for himself, but those souls also for him. And if they be made a hundred, it will still be the same, and their power will be extended. Seest thou the excess of love, how it makes the one both irresistible and manifold, how one can even be in many places, the same both in Persia and in Rome, and that what nature cannot do, love can? for one part of him will be here, and one there, or rather he will be wholly here and wholly there. If then he have a thousand or two thousand friends, consider again whither his power will extend. Seest thou what an increase-giving thing is love? for the wonderful thing is this, its making one a thousand. Why then do we not acquire this power and place ourselves in safety? This is better than all power or riches,(1) this is more than health, than light itself, it is the groundwork of good courage. How long do we set our love on one or two? Consider also the action in the contrary way. Suppose a man without a friend, a mark of the utmost folly, (for a fool will say, "I have no friend,") what sort of life will such a one lead? For though he be infinitely rich, in plenty and luxury, possessed of ten thousand good things, yet is he desolate and bare of all. But in the case of friends not so; though they be poor men, yet are they better provided than the wealthy; and the things which a man undertakes not to say for himself, a friend will say for him, and whatever gratifications he is not able to procure for himself, he will be enabled to obtain by means of another, and much more; and it will be to us the groundwork of all enjoyment and safety, since one who is guarded by so many spearmen cannot suffer harm. For the king's body guards are not equal in their strictness to these. The one perform their watch through compulsion and fear, the others through kindness and love; and love is far mightier than fear. The king fears his own guards; the friend is more confident in them than in himself, and by reason of them fears none of those that plot against him. Let us then engage in this traffic; the poor man, that he may have consolation in his poverty; the rich, that he may possess his wealth in safety; the ruler, that he may rule with safety;(2) the ruled, that he may have benevolent rulers. This is the source of kindness, this the groundwork of gentleness; since even among beasts, those are the most fierce and untamable which are not gregarious. For this cause we dwell in cities, and have public places, that we may converse with one another. This also Paul commanded, saying, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together" (Heb. x. 25); for no evil is so great as solitariness, and the state which is without compact and intercourse. "What then," saith some one, "of the solitaries, and of those who have occupied the summits of the mountains?" That neither are they without friends; they have indeed fled froth the turmoil of common life, but they have many of one soul with them, and closely bound together one to another; and they have retired that they might rightly accomplish this thing.(3) For since the rivalry of business causes many disputes, therefore, removing from among men, they cultivate(4) love with much exactness. "But how," saith some one, "if a man be alone can he have ten thousand friends?" I, for my part, desire, if it be possible, that men should know how to dwell one with another; but for the present let the properties of friendship remain unshaken.(5) For it is not place which makes friends. They, for instance, have many who admire them; now these would not have admired had they not loved them. Again, they pray for all the world, which is the greatest proof of friendship. For this cause we salute one another at the Mysteries, that being many we may become one; and in the case of the uninitiated,(6) we make our prayers common, supplicating for the sick, and for the produce of the world, for land and sea. Seest thou all the power of love? in the prayers, in the Mysteries, in the exhortations? This is that which causeth all good things. If we hold carefully to this, we shall both rightly dispense things present, and also obtain the Kingdom; which may we all obtain through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
HOMILY LXXIX: JOHN xvi. 16, 17.
A little while, and ye shall not see(1) Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of His disciples among themselves, What is this that He saith?" [And what follows.(2)]
[1.] NOTHING is wont so to cast down the soul that is anguished and possessed by deep despondency, as when words which cause pain are continually dwelt upon. Why then did Christ, after saying, "I go," and, "Hereafter I will not speak with you," continually dwell on the same subject, saying "A little while, and ye shall not see Me, because I go to Him that sent Me"?(3) When He had recovered them by His words concerning the Spirit, He gain casteth down their courage. Wherefore doth He this? He testeth their feelings, and rendereth them more proved, and well accustometh them by hearing sad things, manfully to bear separation from Him; for they who had practiced this when spoken of in words, were likely in actions also, easily to bear it afterwards. And if one enquire closely, this very thing is a consolation,(4) the saying that, "I go to the Father." For it is the expression of One, who declares that He shall not perish, but that His end is a kind of translation. He addeth too another consolation; for He saith not merely, "A little while, and ye shall not see Me," but also, "A little while, and ye shall see Me"; showing that He will both come to them again, and that their separation would be but for a little while, and His presence with them continual. This, however, they did not understand. Whence one may with reason wonder how, after having often heard these things, they doubt, as though they had heard nothing. How then is it that they did not understand? It was either through grief, as I suppose, for that drove what was said from their understanding; or through the obscurity of the words. Because He seemed to them to set forth two contraries, which were not contrary. "If," saith one of them, "we shall see Thee, whither goest Thou? And if Thou goest, how shall we see Thee?" Therefore they say, "We cannot tell what He saith." That He was about to depart, they knew; but they knew not that He would shortly come to them. On which account He rebuketh them, because they did not understand His saying. For, desiring to infix in(5) them the doctrine concerning His death, what saith He?
Vet. 20.(6) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament "--which belonged to the Death and the Cross--"but the world shall rejoice."
Because by reason of their not desiring His death, they quickly ran into the belief that He would not die, and then when they heard that He would die, cast about, not knowing what that "little" meant, He saith, "Ye shall mourn and lament."
"But your sorrow shall be turned into joy."(7) Then having shown that after grief comes joy, and that grief gendereth joy, and that grief is short, but the pleasure endless, He passeth to a common(8) example; and what saith He?
Ver. 21. "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow."(9)
And He hath used a comparison which the Prophets also use continually, likening despondencies to the exceeding pains of childbirth. But what He saith is of this kind: "Travail pains shall lay hold on you, but the pang of childbirth is the cause of joy"; both confirming His words relative to the Resurrection, and showing that the departing hence is like passing from the womb into the light of day. As though He had said, "Marvel not that I bring you to your advantage through such sorrow, since even a mother to become a mother, passeth in like manner through pain." Here also He implieth something mystical, that He hath loosened the travail pangs of death, and caused a new man to be born of them,(10) And He said not, that the pain shall pass away only, but, "she doth not even remember it," so great is the joy which succeedeth; so also shall it be with the Saints. And yet the woman doth not rejoice because "a man hath come into the world," but because a son hath been born to her; since, had this been the case, nothing would have hindered the barren from rejoicing over another who beareth.
Why then spake He thus? Because He introduced this example for this purpose only, to show that sorrow is for a season, but joy lasting: and to show that (death) is a translation unto life; and to show the great profit of their pangs. He said not, "a child hath been born," but, "A man." For to my mind He here alludeth to His own Resurrection, and that He should be born not unto that death which bare the birth- pang, but unto the Kingdom. Therefore He said not, "a child hath been born unto her," but, "A man hath been born into the world."
Ver. 22, 23.(1) "And ye now therefore have sorrow--[but I will see you again, and your sorrow shall be turned into joy]."(2) Then, to show that He shall die no more, He saith, "And no man taketh it from you. And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing."
Again He proveth nothing else by these words, but that He is from God. "For then ye shall for the time to come know all things." But what is, "Ye shall not ask Me"? "Ye shall need no intercessor, but it is sufficient that ye call on My Name, and so gain all things."
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask My Father in My Name."(3)
He showeth the power of His Name, if at least being neither seen nor called upon, but only named, He even maketh us approved(4) by the Father. But where hath this taken place? Where they say, "Lord, behold their threatenings, and grant unto Thy servants that with boldness they may speak Thy word" (Acts iv. 29, 31), "and work miracles in Thy Name." "And the place was shaken where they were."
Ver. 24. "Hitherto ye have asked nothing."(5) [2.] Hence He showeth it to be good that He should depart, if hitherto they had asked nothing, and if then they should receive all things whatsoever they should ask. "For do not suppose, because I shall no longer be with you, that ye are deserted; My Name shall give you greater boldness." Since then the words which He had used had been veiled, He saith,
Ver. 25. "These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs, but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs."
"There shall be a time when ye shall know all things clearly." He speaketh of the time of the Resurrection. "Then,"
"I shall tell you plainly of the Father."
(For He was with them, and talked with them forty days, being assembled with them, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God--Acts i. 3, 4,)-- "because now being in fear, ye give no heed to My words; but then when ye see Me risen again, and converse with Me, ye will be able to learn all things plainly, for the Father Himself will love you, when your faith in Me hath been made firm."
Ver. 26. "And I will not ask the Father."(6)
"Your love for Me sufficeth to be your advocate."
Vet. 27, 28. "Because(7) ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again I leave the world, and go to the Father."
For since His discourse concerning the Resurrection, and together with this, the hearing that "I came out from God, and thither I go," gave them no common comfort, He continually handleth these things. He gave a pledge, in the first place, that they were right in believing on Him; in the second, that they should be in safety. When therefore He said, "A little while, and ye shall not see Me; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me" (ver. 17), they with reason did not understand Him. But now it is no longer so. What then is, "Ye shall not ask Me"? "Ye shall not say, 'Show us the Father,' and, 'Whither goest Thou?' for ye shall know all knowledge, and the Father shall be disposed towards you even as I am." It was this especially which made them breathe again, the learning that they should be the Father's friends wherefore they say,
Ver. 30.(8) "Now we know that Thou knowest all things."
Seest thou that He made answer to what was secretly harboring" in their minds?
"And needest not that any man should ask Thee."
That is, "Before hearing, Thou knowest the things which made us stumble, and Thou hast given us rest, since Thou hast said, 'The Father loveth you, because ye have loved Me.'" After so many and so great matters, they say, "Now we know." Seest thou in what an imperfect state they were? Then, when, as though conferring a favor upon Him, they say, "Now we know," He replieth, "Ye still require many other things to come to perfection; nothing is as yet achieved by you. Ye shall presently betray Me to My enemies, and such fear shall seize you, that ye shall not even be able to retire one with another, yet from this I shall suffer nothing dreadful." Seest thou again how con descending His speech is? And indeed He makes this a charge against them, that they continually needed condescension. For when they say, "Lo, now Thou speakest plainly, and speakest no parable" (ver. 29), "and therefore we believe Thee" He showeth them that now, when they believe, they do not yet believe, neither doth He accept their words. This He saith, referring them to another season. But the,
Ver. 32.(1) "The Father is with Me," He hath again put on their account; for this they(2) everywhere wished to learn. Then, to show that He did not give them perfect knowledge by saying this, but in order that their reason might not rebel, (for it was probable that they might form some human ideas, and think that they should not enjoy any assistance from Him,) He saith,
Ver. 33. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace."(3)
That is, "that ye should not cast Me from your thoughts, but receive Me." Let no one, then, drag these words into a doctrine; they are spoken for our comfort and love. "For not even when we suffer such things as I have mentioned shall your troubles stop there,(4) but as long as ye are in the world ye shall have sorrow, not only now when I am betrayed, but also afterwards. But rouse your minds, for ye shall suffer nothing terrible. When the master hath gotten the better of his enemies, the disciples must not despond." "And how," tell me, "hast Thou conquered the world'?" I have told you already, that I have cast down its ruler, but ye shall know hereafter, when all things yield and give place to you.
[3.] But it is permitted to us also to conquer, looking to the Author of our faith, and walking on that road which He cut for us. So neither shall death get the mastery of us. "What then, shall we not die?" saith some one. Why, from this very thing(4) it is clear that he shall not gain the mastery over us. The champion truly will then be glorious, not when he hath not closed with his opponent, but when having closed he is not holden by him. We therefore are not mortal, because of our struggle with death, but immortal, because of our victory; then should we have been mortal, had we remained with him always. As then I should not call the longest-lived animals immortal, although they long remain free from death, so neither him who shall rise after death mortal, because he is dissolved by death. For, tell me, if a man blush a little, should we say that he was continually ruddy? Not so, for the action is not a habit. If one become pale, should we call him jaundiced? No, for the affection is but temporary. And so you would not call him mortal, who hath been for but a short time in the hands of death. Since in this way we may speak of those who sleep, for they are dead, so to say, and without action. But doth death corrupt our bodies? What of that? It is not that they may remain in corruption, but that they be made better. Let us then conquer the world, let us run to immortality, let us follow our King, let us too set up a trophy,(6) let us despise the world's pleasures. We need no toil to do so; let us transfer our souls to(7) heaven, and all the world is conquered. If thou desirest it not, it is conquered; if thou deride it, it is worsted. Strangers are we and sojourners, let us then not grieve at any of its painful things. For if, being sprung from a renowned country, and from illustrious ancestors, thou hadst gone into some distant land, being known to no one, having with thee neither servants nor wealth, and then some one had insulted thee, thou wouldest not grieve as though thou hadst suffered these things at home. For the knowing clearly that thou wast in a strange and foreign land, would persuade thee to bear all easily, and to despise hunger, and thirst, and any suffering whatever. Consider this also now, that thou art a stranger and a sojourner, and let nothing disturb thee in this foreign land; for thou hast a City whose Artificer and Creator is God, and the sojourning itself is but for a short and little time. Let whoever will strike, insult, revile; we are in a strange land, and live but meanly; the dreadful thing would be, to suffer so in our own country, before our fellow-citizens, then is the greatest unseemliness and loss. For if a man be where he had none that knows him, he endures all easily, because insult becomes more grievous from the intention of those who offer it. For instance, if a man insult the governor, knowing that he is governor, then the insult is bitter; but if he insult, supposing him to be a private man, he cannot even touch him who undergoeth the insult. So let us reason also. For neither do our revilers know what we are, as, that we are citizens of heaven, registered for the country which is above, fellow-choristers of the Cherubim. Let us not then grieve nor deem their insult to be insult; had they known, they would not have insulted us. Do they deem us poor and mean? Neither let us count this an insult. For tell me, if a traveler having got before his servants, were sitting a little space in the inn waiting for them, and then the innkeeper, or some travelers, should behave rudely to him, and revile him, would he not laugh at the other's ignorance? would not their mistake rather give him pleasure? would he not feel a satisfaction as though not he but some one else were insulted? Let us too behave thus. We too sit in an inn, waiting for our friends who travel the same road; when we are all collected, then they shall know whom they insult. These men then shall hang(1) their heads; then they shall say, "This is he whom we" fools "had in derision." (Wisd. v. 3.)
[4.] With these two things then let us comfort ourselves, that we are not insulted, for they know not who we are, and that, if we wish to obtain satisfaction, they shall hereafter give us a most bitter one. But God forbid that any should have a soul so cruel and inhuman. "What then if we be insulted by our kinsmen? For this is the burdensome thing." Nay, this is the light thing. "Why, pray?" Because we do not bear those whom we love when they insult us, in the same way as we bear those whom we do not know. For instance, in consoling those who have been injured, we often say," It is a brother who hath injured you, bear it nobly; it is a father; it is an uncle." But if the name of "father" and "brother" puts you to shame much more if I name to you a relationship more intimate than these; for we are not only brethren one to another, but also members, and one body. Now if the name of brother shame you, much more that of member. Hast thou not heard that Gentile proverb, which saith, that "it behooveth to keep friends with their defects"? Hast thou not heard Paul say, "Bear ye one another's burdens"? Seest thou not lovers? For I am compelled, since I cannot draw an instance from you, to bring my discourse to that ground of argument. This also Paul doth, thus saying, "Furthermore we have had fathers in our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence." (Heb. xii. 9.) Or rather, that is more apt which he saith to the Romans, "As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now yield your members servants to righteousness." For this reason let us confidently keep hold of(2) the illustration. Now dost thou not observe lovers, what miseries these suffer when inflamed with desire for harlots, cuffed, beaten, and laughed at, enduring a harlot, who turns away from and insults them in ten thousand ways; yet if they see but once anything sweet or gentle, all is well to do with them, all former things are gone, all goes on with a fair wind, be it poverty, be it sickness, be it anything else besides these. For they count their own life as miserable or blessed, according as they may have her whom they love disposed towards them. They know nothing of mortal honor or disgrace, but even if one insult, they bear all easily through the great pleasure and delight which they receive from her; and though she revile, though she spit in their face, they think, when they are enduring this, that they are being pelted with roses. And what wonder, if such are their feelings as to her person? for her very house they think to be more splendid than any, though it be but of mud, though it be filling down. But why speak I of walls? when they even see the places which they frequent in the evening, they are excited. Allow me now for what follows to speak the word of the Apostle. As he saith, "As ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness, so yield your members servants unto righteousness"; so in like manner now I say, "as we have loved these women, let us love one another, and we shall not think that we suffer anything terrible."(3) And why say I, "one another"? Let us so love God. Do ye shudder, when ye hear that I require as much love in the case of God, as we have shown towards a harlot? But I shudder that we do not show even thus much. And, if you will, let us go on with the argument, though what is said be very painful. The woman beloved promises her lovers nothing good, but dishonor, shame, and insolence. For this is what the waiting upon a harlot makes a man, ridiculous, shameful, dishonored. But God promiseth us heaven, and the good things which are in heaven; He hath made us sons, and brethren of the Only-begotten, and hath given thee ten thousand things while living, and when thou diest, resurrection, and promiseth that He will give us such good things as it is not possible even to imagine, and maketh us honored and revered. Again, that woman compels her lovers to spend all their substance for the pit and for destruction; but God biddeth us sow the heaven, and giveth us an hundred-fold, and eternal life. Again, she uses her lover like a slave, giving commands more hardly than any tyrant; but God saith, "I no longer call you servants, but friends." (c. xv. 15.)
[5.] Have ye seen the excess both of the evils here and the blessings there(4)? What then comes next? For this woman's sake, many lie awake, and whatever she commands, readily obey; give up house, and father, and mother, and friends, and money, and patronage, and leave all that belongs to them in want and desolation; but for the sake of God, or rather for the sake of ourselves, we often do not choose to expend even the third portion of our substance, but we look on the hungry, we overlook him, and run past the naked, and do not even bestow a word upon him. But the lovers, if they see but a little servant girl of their mistress, and her a barbarian, they stand in the middle of the market-place, and talk with her, as if they were proud and glad to do so, unrolling an interminable round of words;(1) and for her sake they count all their living as nothing, deem rulers and rule nothing, (they know it, all who have had experience of the malady,) and thank her more when she commands, than others when the) serve. Is there not with good reason a hell? Are there not with good reason ten thousand punishments? Let us then become sober, let us apply to the service of God as much, or half, or even the third part of what others supply to the harlot. Perhaps again ye shudder; for so do I myself. But I would not that ye should shudder at words only, but at the actions; as it is, here indeed our(2) hearts are made orderly, but we go forth and cast all away. What then is the gain? For there, if it be required to spend money, no one laments his poverty, but even borrows it to give, perchance, when smitten. But here, if we do but mention almsgiving, they pretend to us children, and wife, and house, and patronage, and ten thousand excuses. "But," saith some one, "the pleasure is great there." This it is that I lament and mourn. What if I show that the pleasure here is greater? For there shame, and insult, and expense, cut away no little of the pleasure, and after these the quarreling and enmity; but here there is nothing of the kind. What is there, tell me, equal to this pleasure, to sit expecting heaven and the kingdom there, and the glory of the saints, and the life that is endless? "But these things," saith some one, "are in expectation, the others in experience." What kind of experience? Wilt thou that I tell thee the pleasures which are here also by experience? Consider what freedom thou enjoyest, and how thou fearest and tremblest at no man when thou livest in company with virtue, neither enemy, nor plotter, nor informer, nor rival in credit or in love, nor envious person, nor poverty, nor sickness, nor any other human thing. But there, although ten thousand things be according to thy mind, though riches flow in as from a fountain, yet the war with rivals, and the plots, and ambuscades, will make more miserable than any the life of him who wallows with those women.(3) For when that abominable one is haughty, and insolent, you needs must kindle quarrel to flatter her. This therefore is more grievous than ten thousand deaths, more intolerable than any punishment. But here there is nothing of the kind. For "the fruit," it saith, "of the Spirit is love, joy, peace." (Gal. v. 22.) Here is no quarreling, nor unseasonable pecuniary expense, nor disgrace and expense too; and if thou give but a farthing, or a loaf, or a cup of cold water, He will be much beholden to thee, and He doth nothing to pain or grieve thee, but all so as to make thee glorious, and free thee from all shame. What defense therefore shall we have, what pardon shall we gain, if, leaving these things, we give ourselves up to the contrary, and voluntarily cast ourselves into the furnace that burns with fire? Wherefore I exhort those who are sick of this malady, to recover themselves, and return to health, and not allow themselves to fall into despair. Since that son(4) also was in a far more grievous state than this, yet when he returned to his father's house, he came to his former honor, and appeared more glorious than him who had ever been well-pleasing. Let us also imitate him, and returning to our Father, even though it be late, let us depart from that captivity, and transfer ourselves to freedom, that we may enjoy the Kingdom of heaven, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
HOMILY LXXX: JOHN xvii. 1.
"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and saith, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee."
[1.] "He that hath done and taught,''(1) it saith, "the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven." And with much reason; for to show true wisdom in words, is easy, but the proof which is by works is the part of some noble and great one. Wherefore also Christ, speaking of the endurance of evil, putteth Himself forth, bidding us take example from Him. On this account too, after this admonition, He betaketh Himself to prayer, teaching us in our temptations to leave all things, and flee to God. For because He had said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation," and had shaken their souls, by the prayer He raiseth them again. As yet they gave heed unto Him as to a man; and for their sake He acteth thus, just as He did in the case of Lazarus, and there telleth the reason; "Because of the people that stand by I said it, that they might believe that Thou hast sent Me." (c. xi. 42.) "Yea," saith some one, "this took place with good cause in the case of the Jews; but wherefore in that of the disciples?" With good cause in the case of the disciples also. For they who, after all that had been said and done, said, "Now we know that Thou knowest" (c. xvi. 30), most of all needed to be established. Besides, the Evangelist doth not even call the action prayer; but what saith he? "He lifted up His eyes to heaven," and saith rather that it was a discoursing with the Father. And if elsewhere he speaks of prayer, and at one time shows Him kneeling on His knees, at another lifting His eyes to heaven, be not thou troubled; for by these means we are taught the earnestness which should be in our petitions, that standing we should look up, not with the eyes of the flesh only, but of the mind, and that we should bend our knees, bruising our own hearts. For Christ came not merely to manifest Himself, but also about to teach virtue ineffable. But it behooveth the teacher to teach, not by words only, but also by actions.Let us hear then what He saith in this place.
"Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee."
Again He showeth us, that not unwilling He cometh to the Cross. For how could He be unwilling, who prayed that this might come to pass, and called the action "glory," not only for Himself the Crucified, but also for the Father? since this was the case, for not the Son only, but the Father also was glorified. For before the Crucifixion, not even the Jews knew Him "Israel," it saith, "hath not known Me" (Isa. i. 3); but after the Crucifixion, all the world ran to Him. Then He speaketh also of the manner of the glory, and how He will glorify Him.
Ver. 2. "As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh," "that nothing which Thou hast given Him should perish."(3)
For to be always doing good, is glory to God. But what is, "As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh"? He now showeth, that what belongs to the preaching is not confined to the Jews alone, but is extended to all the world, and layeth down beforehand the first invitations to the Gentiles. And since He had said, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles" (Matt. x. 5), and after this time is about to say, "Go ye, and make disciples of all nations" (Matt. xxviii. 19), He showeth that the Father also willeth this. For this greatly offended the Jews, and the disciples too; nor indeed after this did they easily endure to lay hold on the Gentiles, until they received the teaching of the Spirit; because hence arose no small stumblingblock for the Jews. Therefore, when Peter after such a manifestation of the Spirit came to Jerusalem, he could scarcely, by relating the vision of the sheet, escape the charges brought against him. But what is, "Thou hast given Him power over all flesh"? I will ask the heretics, "When did He receive this power? was it before He formed them, or after?" He himself saith, that it was after that He had been crucified,(4) and had risen again; at least then He said, "All power is given unto Me" (Matt. xxviii. 18), and, "Go ye and make disciples of all nations." What then, had He not authority over His own works? Did He make them, and had He not authority over them after having made them? Yet He is seen doing all in times of old, punishing some as sinners? (for, "Surely I will not hide," it saith, "from My servant Abraham, that which I am about to do"--Gen. xviii. 17, LXX.,) and honoring others as righteous. Had He then the power at that time, and now had He lost it, and did He again receive it? What devil could assert this? But if His power was the same both then and now, (for, saith He, "as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will "--c. v. 21,) what is the meaning of the words? He was about to send them to the Gentiles; in order therefore that they might not think that this was an innovation, because He had said, "I am not sent, save unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. xv. 24), He showeth that this seemeth good to the Father also. And if He saith this with great meanness of circumstance, it is not wonderful. For so He edified both those at that time, and those who came afterwards; and as I have before said, He always by the excess of meanness firmly persuaded them that the words were those of condescension.
[2.] But what is, "Of all flesh"? For certainly not all believed. Yet, for His part, all believed; and if men gave no heed to His words, the fault was not in the teacher, but in those who received them not.
"That He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him."
If here also He speaketh in a more human manner, wonder not. For He doth so both on account of the reasons I have given, and to avoid the saying anything great concerning Himself; since this was a stumblingblock to the hearers because as yet they imagined nothing great concerning Him. John, for example, when He speaks in his own person, doth not so, but leadeth up his language to greater sublimity, saying, "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made" (c. i. 3, 4, 9, 11); and that He was "Life"; and that He was "Light"; and that "He came to His own": he saith not, that He would not have had power, had He not received it, but that He gave to others also "power to become sons of God." And Paul in like manner calleth Him equal with God. But He Himself asketh in a more human way, saying thus, "That He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him." (Phil. ii. 6.)
Ver. 3. "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."
"The only true God," He saith, by way of distinction from those which are not gods; for He was about to send them to the Gentiles. But if they(1) will not allow this, but on account of this word "only" reject the Son from being true God, in this way as they proceed they reject Him from being God at all.(2) For He also saith, "Ye seek not the glory which is from the only God." (c. v. 44.) Well then; shall not the Son be God? But if the Son be God, and the Son of the Father who is called the Only God, it is clear that He also is true, and the Son of Him who is called the Only true God. Why, when Paul saith, "Or I only and Barnabas" (1 Cor. ix. 6), doth he exclude Barnabas? Not at all; for the "only" is put by way of distinction from others. And, if He be not true God, how is He "Truth"? for truth fir surpasses what is true. What shall we call the not being a "true" man, tell me? shall we not call it the not being a man at all? so if the Son is not true God, how is He God? And how maketh He us gods and sons, if He is not true? But on these matters we have spoken more particularly in another place; wherefore let us apply ourselves to what follows.
Ver. 4. "I have glorified Thee on the earth." Well said He, "on the earth"; for in heaven He had been already glorified, having His own natural glory, and being worshiped by the Angels. Christ then speaketh not of that glory which is bound up with His(3) Essence, (for that glory, though none glorify Him, He ever possesseth in its fullness,) but of that which cometh from the service of men. And so the, "Glorify Me," is of this kind; and that thou mayest understand that He speaketh of this manner of glory, hear what follows.
"I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me that I should do it."
And yet the action was still but beginning, or rather was not yet beginning. How then said He, "I have finished"? Either He meaneth, that "I have done all My part"; or He speaketh of the future, as having already come to pass; or, which one may say most of all, that all was already effected, because the root of blessings had been laid, which fruits would certainly and necessarily follow, and from His being(4) present at and assisting in those things which should take place after these. On this account He saith again in a condescending way, "Which Thou gavest Me." For had He indeed waited to hear and learn, this would have fallen far short of His glory. For that He came to this of His own will, is clear from many passages. As when Paul saith, that "He so loved us, as to give Himself for us" (Eph. v. 2); and, "He emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant" (Phil. ii. 7); and, "As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you." (c. xv. 9.)
Ver. 5. "And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine Own Self,(6) with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was."
Where is that glory? For allowing that He was(7) with reason unhonored among men, because of the covering(8) which was put around Him; how seeketh He(1) to be glorified with the Father? What then saith He here? The saying refers to the Dispensation; since His fleshly nature had not yet been glorified, not having as yet enjoyed incorruption, nor shared the kingly throne. Therefore He said not "on earth," but "with Thee."
[3.] This glory we also shall enjoy according to our measure, if we be sober. Wherefore Paul saith, "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." (Rom. viii. 17.) Ten thousand tears then do they merit, who through sluggishness and sleep plot against themselves when such glory is set before them; and, were there no hell, they would be more wretched than any, who, when it is in their power to reign and to be glorified with the Son of God, deprive themselves of so great blessings. Since if it were necessary to be cut in pieces, if to die ten thousand deaths, if to give up every day ten thousand lives and as many bodies, ought we not to submit to such things(2) for such glory? But now we do not even despise money, which hereafter, though unwilling, we shall leave: we do not despise money, which brings about us ten thousand mischiefs, which remains here, which is not our own. For we are but stewards of that which is not our own, although we receive it from our fathers. But when there is hell besides, and the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched, and the gnashing of teeth, how, tell me, shall we bear these things? How long will we refuse to see clearly, and spend our all on daily fightings, and contentions, and unprofitable talk, feeding, cultivating earth, fattening the body and neglecting the soul, making no account of necessary things, but much care about things superfluous and unprofitable? And we build splendid tombs, and buy costly houses, and draw about with us herds of all kinds of servants, and devise different stewards, appointing managers of lands, of houses, of money, and managers of those managers; but as to our desolate soul, we care nothing for that. And what will be the limit to this? Is it not one belly that we fill, is it not one body that we clothe? What is this great bustle of business? Why and wherefore do we cut up and tear to pieces the one(3) soul, which we have had assigned to us,(4) in attending to the service of such things, contriving for ourselves a grievous slavery? For he who needs many things is the slave of many things, although he seem to be their master. Since the lord is the slave even of his domestics, and brings in another and a heavier mode of service; and in another way also he is their slave, not daring without them to enter the agora, nor the bath, nor the field, but they frequently go about in all directions without him. He who seems to be master, dares not, if his slaves be not present, to go forth from home, and if whilst unattended he do but put his head out of his house, he thinks that he is laughed at. Perhaps some laugh at us when we say this, yet on this very account they would be deserving of ten thousand tears. For to show that this is slavery, I would gladly ask you, wouldest thou wish to need some one to put the morsel to thy mouth, and to apply the cup to thy lips? Wouldest thou not deem such a service worthy of tears? What if thou didst require continually supporters to enable thee to walk, wouldest thou not think thyself pitiable, and in this respect more wretched than any? So then thou oughtest to be disposed. now. For it matters nothing whether one is so treated by irrational things,(5) or by men.
Why, tell me, do not the Angels differ from us in this respect, that they do not want so many things as we do? Therefore the less we need, the more we are on our way to them; the more we need, the more we sink dozen to this perishable life. And that thou mayest learn that these things are so, ask those who have grown old which life they deem happiest, that when they were helplessly(6) mastered, or now when they are masters of these things? We have mentioned these persons, because those who are intoxicated with youth, do not even know the excess of their slavery. For what of those in fever, do they call themselves happy when, thirsting much, they drink much and need more, or when, having recovered their health, they are free from the desire? Seest thou that in every instance the needing much is pitiable, and far apart from true wisdom, and an aggravation of slavery and desire? Why then do we voluntarily increase to ourselves wretchedness? For, tell me, if it were possible to live uninjured without roof or wails, wouldest thou not prefer this; wherefore then dost thou increase the signs of thy weakness? Do we not for this call Adam happy, that he needed nothing, no house, no clothes? "Yes," saith some one, "but now we are in need of them." Why then do we make our need greater? If many persons curtail many of the things actually needed, (servants, I mean, and houses, and money,) what excuse can we have if we overstep the need? The more thou puttest about thee, the more slavish dost thou become; for by whatever proportion thou requirest more, in that proportion thou hast trenched upon thy freedom. For absolute(7) freedom is, to want nothing at all; the next is, to want little; and this the Angels and their imitators especially possess. But for men to succeed in this while tarrying in a mortal body, think how great praise this hath. This also Paul said, when writing to the Corinthians, "But I spare you," and, "lest such should have trouble in the flesh."(1) (1 Cor. vii. 28.) Riches are called "usables,"(2) that we may "use" them rightly, and not keep and bury them; for this is not to possess them, but to be possessed by them. Since if we are going to make this our aim how to multiply them, not that we may employ them rightly, the order is reversed, and they possess us, not we them. Let us then free ourselves from this grievous bondage, and at last become free. Why do we devise ten thousand different chains for ourselves? Is not the bond of nature enough for thee, and the necessity of life, and the crowd of ten thousand affairs, but dost thou twine also other nets for thyself, and put them about thy feet? And when wilt thou lay hold on heaven, and be able to stand on(6) that height? For a great thing, a great thing is it, that even having cut asunder all these cords, thou shouldest be able to lay hold on the city which is above. So many other hindrances are there; all which that we may conquer, let us keep to the mean estate(7) [and having put away superfluities, let us keep to what is necessary.] Thus shall we lay hold on eternal life, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever' and ever. Amen.
HOMILY LXXXI: JOHN xvii. 6.
"I have manifested Thy Name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me, and they have kept Thy word."
[1.] "MESSENGER of great counsel" (Isa. ix. 6, LXX.), the Son of God is called, because of the other things which He taught, and principally because He announced the Father to men, as also now He saith, "I have manifested Thy Name unto the men." For after having said, "I have finished Thy work," He next explaineth it in detail, telling what sort of work. Now the Name indeed was well known. For Esaias said, "Ye shall swear(3) by the true God." (Isa. lxv. 16.) But what I have often told you I tell you now, that though it was known, yet it was so only to Jews, and not to all of these: but now He speaketh concerning the Gentiles. Nor doth He declare this merely, but also that they knew Him as the Father. For it is not the same thing to learn that He is Creator, and that He hath a Son. But He "manifested His(4) Name" both by words and actions. "Whom Thou gavest Me out of the world."
As He saith above, No man cometh unto Me except it be given him" (c.vi 65); and, Except My Father(5) draw him" (c. vi. 64); so here too, "Whom thou gavest Me. (c. xiv. 6.) Now He calleth Himself "the Way"; whence it is clear that He establisheth two things by what is said here, that He is not opposed to the Father, and that it is the Father's will to entrust them to the Son.
"Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me." Here He desireth to teach(8) that He is greatly loved by the Father. For that He needed not to receive them, is clear from this, He made them, He careth for them continually. How then did He receive them? This, as I said before, showeth His unanimity with the Father. Now if a man choose to enquire into the matter in a human manner, and as the words are spoken, they(9) will no longer belong to the Father. For if when the Father had them, the Son had them not, it is evident that when He gave them to the Son, He withdrew from His dominion over them. And again, there is a yet more unseemly conclusion; for they will be found to have been imperfect while they yet were with the Father, but to have become perfect when they came to the Son. But it is mockery even to speak thus. What then doth He declare by this?(10) "That it hath seemed good to the Father also that they should believe on the Son."
"And they have kept Thy word."
Ver. 7. Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee."
How did they "keep Thy word"? "By believing in Me, and giving no heed to the Jews. For he that believeth in Him, it saith, 'hath set to his seal that God is true.'" (c. iii. 33.) Some read, "Now I know that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee." But this would have no reason; for how would the Son be ignorant of the things of the Father? No the words are spoken of the disciples. "From the time," He saith, "that I told them these things, they have learnt that all that Thou hast given Me is from Thee; nothing is alien, nothing peculiar to Me, with Thee."(1) (For whatever is peculiar, puts most things in the condition of being alien.(2) "They therefore have known that all things, whatsoever I teach, are Thy doctrines and teachings." "And whence have they learnt it?" From My words;(3) for so have I taught them. And not only this have I taught them, but also that "I came out from Thee." For this He was anxious to prove through all the Gospel. Ver. 9. "I pray for them."(4)
"What sayest Thou?" "Dost Thou teach the Father, as though He were ignorant? Dost Thou speak to Him as to a man who knoweth not?" "What then meaneth this distinction?" Seest thou that the prayer is for nothing else than that they may understand the love which He hath towards them? For He who not only giveth what He hath of His own, but also calleth on Another to do the same, showeth greater love. What then is, "I pray for them"? "Not for all the world," He saith, but "for them whom Thou hast given Me." He continually putteth the "hast given," that they might learn that this seemeth good to the Father. Then, because He had said continually, "they are Thine," and, "Thou gavest them unto Me," to remove any evil suspicion, and lest any one should think that His authority was recent, and that He had but now received them, what saith He?
[2.] Ver. 10. "All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them."
Seest thou the equality of honor? For lest on hearing, "Thou hast given them Me," thou shouldest deem that they were alienated from the authority of the Father, or before this from that of the Son, He removed both difficulties by speaking as He did. It was as though He said, "Do not when thou hearest that 'Thou hast given them to Me,' deem that they are alienated from the Father, for what is Mine is His; nor when thou hearest, 'Thine they were,' think that they were aliens from Me, for what is His is Mine." So that the, "Thou hast given," is said only for condescension; for what the Father hath is the Son's, and what the Son hath is the Father's. But this cannot even be said of a son after the manner of man, but because They(5) are upon a greater Equality of honor.(6) For that what belongs to the less, belongs to the greater also, is clear to every one, but the reverse not so; but here He converteth(7) these terms, and the conversion declares(8) Equality. And in another place, declaring this, He said, "All things that the Father hath are Mine," speaking of knowledge. And the "hast given Me," and the like expressions, are to show that He did not come as an alien and draw them to Him, but received them as His own. Then He putteth the cause and the proof, saying, "And I am glorified in them," that is, either that "I have power over them," or, that "they shall glorify Me, believing in Thee and Me, and shall glorify Us alike." But if He is not glorified equally in them, what is the Father's is no longer His. For no one is glorified in those over whom he hath no authority. Yet how is He glorified equally? All die for Him equally as for the Father; they preach Him as they do the Father; and as they say that all things are done in His Name, so also in the Name of the Son.
Ver. 11. "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world." (9)
That is, "Although I appear no longer in the flesh, yet by these am I glorified." But why doth He say continuously, that, "I am not in the world"; and that, "because I leave them I commit them to Thee"; and that, "when I was in the world I kept them"? for if one should take these words in their simple sense, many absurdities will follow. For how could it be reasonable to say, that He is no longer in the world, and that when He departeth He committeth them to another? since these are the words of a mere man parting from them forever. Seest thou how He speaketh for the most part like a man, and in a way adapted to their state of mind, because they thought that they had a greater degree of safety from His presence? Wherefore He saith, "While I was with them, I kept them." (c. xiv. 28.) Yet He telleth them, "I come to you"; and," I am with you till the end." (Matt. xxviii. 20.) How then(10) saith He these words, as if about to be parted from them? He addresseth Himself, as I said before, to their thoughts,(11) that they may take breath a little when they hear Him speaking thus, and delivering them over to the care of the Father. For since, after hearing many exhortations from Him, they were not persuaded, He then holdeth converse with the Father, manifesting His affection for them. As though He had said, "Since Thou callest Me to Thyself, place these in safety; for I come to Thee." "What sayest Thou? Art Thou not able to keep them?" "Yea, I am able." "Wherefore then speakest Thou thus?" "That they may have My joy fulfilled"(1) (ver. 13); that is, "may not be confounded, as being imperfect." And by these words He showed that He had spoken all these things so, to give them rest and joy. For the saying appears to be contradictory. "Now I am no longer in the world, and these are in the world." This was what they were suspecting. For a while therefore He condescendeth to them, because had He said, "I keep them," they would not have so well believed; wherefore He saith, "Holy Father, keep them through Thine own Name "; that is, "by thy help."
Ver. 12. "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy Name."
Again He speaketh as a man and as a Prophet, since nowhere doth He appear to have done anything by the Name of God.
"Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled."
And in another place He saith, "Of all that Thou gavest Me, I will surely lose nothing."(3) (c. vi. 39.) Yet not only was he(3) lost, but also many afterwards; how then saith He, "I will in nowise lose"?(4) "For My part, I will not lose." So in another place, declaring the matter was more clearly, He said, "I will in nowise cast out." (c. vi. 37.) "Not through fault of Mine, not because I either instigate or abandon them; but if they start away of themselves, I draw them not by necessity."
Ver. 13. "But now I come to thee."
Seest thou that the discourse is composed rather in a human manner? So that should any wish from these words to lower the Son, he will lower the Father also. Observe, in proof of this, how from the beginning He speaketh(5) partly as though informing and explaining to Him, partly as enjoining. Informing, as when He saith, "I pray not for the world"; enjoining, as, "I have kept them until now," "and none of them is lost"; and, "do Thou therefore now keep them," He saith. And again, "Thine they were, and Thou hast given them unto Me "and "While I was in the world I kept them." But the solution of all is, that the words were addressed to their infirmity.
But after having said that "none of them was lost but the son of perdition," He added, "that the Scripture might be fulfilled." Of what Scripture doth He speak? That which foretelleth many things concerning Him. Not that He perished on that account, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But we have before spoken at length on this point, that this is the peculiar manner of Scripture, which puts things which fall out in accordance with it, as though they were caused by it.(6) And it is needful to enquire exactly into all, both the manner of the speaker, his argument, and the laws of Scripture, if at least we are minded not to draw wrong conclusions. For, "Brethren, be not children in your minds." (1 Cor. xiv. 20.)
[3.] This it is necessary to consider well,(7) not only for the understanding the Scriptures, but also for earnestness in one's way of life. For so little children do not desire great things, but are wont to admire those which are worth nothing; they are pleased at seeing chariots, and horses, and the muleteer, and wheels, all made out of earthenware; but if they see a king sitting upon a chariot, and a pair of white mules, and great magnificence, they do not even(8) turn their heads. And they deck out as brides dolls made of the same material, but the actual brides, real and beautiful, they do not even notice; and this is their case in many other matters. Now this many men also undergo at this time; for when they hear of heavenly things, they do not even give heed to them, but toward all the things of clay they are as eager as children, and stupidly admire the wealth which is of earth, and honor the glory and luxury of the present life. Yet these are just as much toys as those; but the other are the causes of life, and glory, and repose. But as children deprived of their playthings cry, and do not know how even to desire the realities, so also are many of those who seem to be men. Wherefore it saith, "Be not children in your minds." (1 Cor. xiv. 20.) Desirest thou riches, tell me, and desirest thou not the wealth that lasteth, but childish toys? If thou shouldest see a man admiring a leaden coin, and stooping to pick it up, thou wouldest pronounce his penury to be extreme; and dost thou, who collectest more worthless things than this, number thyself among the rich? How can this consist with reason? We will call him rich who despises all present things. For no one, no one will choose to laugh at these little things, silver and gold, and other things of show, unless he have the desire of greater things; just as the man would not despise the leaden coin,(1) unless he possessed coins of gold. Do thou, therefore, when thou seest a man running by all worldly things, deem that he doth so from no other motive than because he looks to a greater world. So the husbandman despises a few grains of wheat, when he expects a larger harvest. But if, when the hope is uncertain, we despise things which are, much more ought we to do so in a case where the expectation is sure. Wherefore I pray and beseech you not to bring loss on yourselves, nor, keeping hold of mire, rob yourselves of the treasures which are above, bringing your vessel to port laden with straw and chaff. Let each say what he will concerning us, let him be angry at our continual admonitions, let him call us silly, tedious, tiresome, still we will not desist from exhorting you on these matters continually, and from continually repeating to you that of the Prophet, "' Break off thy sins by almsgiving, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor' (Dan. iv. 27), and bind them upon thy neck."(3) Do not act in this way to-day, and desist to-morrow. For even this body has need of daily food; and so too hath the soul, or rather that much more; and if it give not,(3) it becomes weaker and more vile. Let us then not neglect it when it is perishing, choking. Many wounds it receives each day, by being lustful, angry, slothful, reviling, revengeful, envious. It is therefore necessary to prepare also remedies for it, and no small remedy is that of almsgiving, which can be placed on every wound. For, "Give alms," it saith, "of such things as ye have, and behold all things are clean unto you." (Luke xi. 41.) "Alms," not covetousness, for that which proceeds from covetousness endures not, though thou give to those who need. For almsgiving is that which is free from all injustice, "this" makes all things clean. This is a thing better even than fasting, or lying on the ground; they may be more painful and laborious, but this more profitable. It enlightens the soul, makes it sleek,(4) beautiful, and vigorous. Not so doth the fruit of the olive hold up the athletes, as this oil recovers the combatants of piety. Let us then anoint our hands, that we may lift them up well against our adversary. He that practiceth showing mercy to him that needeth, will soon cease from covetousness, he who continues in giving to the poor, will soon cease from anger. and will never even be high-minded. For as the physician continually tending wounded persons is easily sobered, beholding human nature in the calamities of others; so we, if we enter upon the work of aiding the poor, shall easily become truly wise, and shall not admire richest nor deem present things any great matter, but despise them all, and soaring aloft to heaven, shall easily obtain the eternal blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
HOMILY LXXXII: JOHN xvii. 14.
"I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
[1.] When having become virtuous we are persecuted by the wicked, or when being desirous of virtue we are mocked at by them, let us not be distracted or angry. For this is the natural course of things, and everywhere virtue is wont to engender hatred from wicked men. For envying those who desire to live properly, and thinking to prepare an excuse for themselves if they can overthrow the credit of others, they hate them as having pursuits opposite to their own, and use every means to shame their way of life. But let not us grieve, for this is a mark of virtue. Wherefore Christ also saith, " If ye were of the world, the world would love its own." (c. xv. 19.) And in another place again, "Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you." (Luke vi. 26.) Wherefore also He saith here, "I have given them Thy word, and the world hath hated them." Again He telleth the reason for which they were worthy to obtain much care from the Father; "For Thy sake," He saith, "they have been hated, and for Thy word's sake"; so that they would be entitled to all providential care.
Ver. 15. "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil."
Again He simplifieth(5) His language; again He rendereth it more clear; which is the act of one showing, by making entreaty for them with exactness, nothing else but this, that He hath a very tender care for them. Yet He Himself had told them, that the Father would do all things whatsoever they should ask. How then doth He here pray for them? As I said, for no other purpose than to show His love.
Ver. 16. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
How then saith He in another place, "Which Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were"? (Ver. 6.) There He speaketh of their nature; here of wicked actions. And He putteth together a long encomium of them; first, that "they were not of the world"; then, that "'the Father Himself had given them"; and that "they had kept His word;" and that on this account "they were hated." And if He saith, "As I am not of the world," be not troubled; for the "as" is not here expressive of unvarying exactness. For as, when in the case of Him and the Father the "as" is used, a great Equality is signified, because of the Relationship in Nature; so when it is used of us and Him, the interval is great, because of the great and infinite interval between the respective natures. For if He "did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth" (1 Pet. ii. 22), how could the Apostles be reckoned equal to Him? What is it then that He saith, "They are not of the world"? "They look to another world, they have nothing common with earth, but are become citizens of heaven." And by these words He showeth His love, when He commendeth them to the Father, and committeth them to Him who begat Him. When He saith, "Keep them," He doth not speak merely of delivering them from dangers, but also with regard to their continuance in the faith. Wherefore He addeth,
Ver. 17. "Sanctify them through Thy truth." "Make them holy by the gift of the Spirit, and of right doctrines." As when He saith, "Ye are clean through the word which I spake unto you" (c. xv. 3), so now He saith the same thing, "Instruct them, teach them the truth." "And yet He saith that the Spirit doth this. How then doth He now ask it from the Father?" That thou mayest again learn their equality of Honor. For right doctrines asserted concerning God sanctify the soul. And if He saith that they are sanctified by the word, marvel not. And to show that He speaketh of doctrines, He addeth,
"Thy word is truth."
That is, "there is no falsehood in it, and all that is said in it must needs come to pass"; and again, it signifieth nothing typical or bodily. As also Paul saith concerning the Church, that He hath sanctified it by the Word. For the Word of God is wont also to cleanse. (Eph. v. 26.)
Moreover, the, "sanctify them," seems to me to signify something else, such as this, "Set them apart for the Word and for preaching." And this is made plain from what follows. For, He saith,
Ver. 17. "As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world."
As Paul also saith, "Having put in us the word of reconciliation." (2 Cor. v. 19.) For the same end for which Christ came, for the same did these take possession of the world. In this place again the "as" is not put to signify resemblance in the case of Himself and the Apostles; for how was it possible for men to be sent otherwise? But it was His custom to speak of the future as having come to pass.(1)
Ver. 19. "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified in the truth."
What is, "I sanctify Myself"? "I offer to Thee a sacrifice." Now all sacrifices are called "holy," and those are specially called "holy things," which are laid up for God. For whereas of old in type the sanctification was by the sheep, but now it is not (2) in type, but by the truth itself, He therefore saith, "That they may be sanctified in Thy truth." "For I both dedicate them to Thee, and make them an offering"; this He saith, either because their Head was being made so,(3) or because they also were sacrificed; for, "Present," it saith, "your bodies a living sacrifice, holy" (Rom. xii. 1); and, "We were counted as sheep for the slaughter." (Ps. xliv. 22.) And He maketh them; without death, a sacrifice and offering; for that He alluded to His own sacrifice, when He said, "I sanctify," is clear from what follows.
Ver. 20. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe."(4)
[2.] For since He was dying for them, and said, that "For their sakes I sanctify Myself," lest any one should think that He did this for the Apostles only, He added, "Neither pray I for these only, but for them also who believe on Me through their word." By this again He revived their souls, showing that the disciples should be many. For because He made common what they possessed peculiarly, He comforteth them by showing that they were being made the cause of the salvation of others.
After having thus spoken concerning their salvation, and their being sanctified by faith and the Sacrifice, He afterwards speaketh of concord, and finally closeth his discourse with this, having begun with it and ended(5) in it. For at the beginning He saith, "A new commandment I give unto you" (c. xiii. 34); and here,
Ver. 21. "That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee."
Here again the "as" doth not denote exact similarity in their case, (for it was not possible for them in so great a degree,) but only as far as was possible for men. Just as when He saith "Be ye merciful, as your Father." (Luke vi. 36.)
But what is, "In Us"?(1) In the faith which is on Us. Because nothing so offends all men as divisions, He provideth that they should be one. "What then," saith some one, "did He effect this?" Certainly He effected it. For all who believe through the Apostles are one, though some from among them were torn away. Nor did this escape His knowledge, He even foretold it, and showed that it proceeded from men's slack- mindedness.
"That the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me."
As He said in the beginning, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye love one another," And how should they hence believe? "Because," He saith, "Thou art a God of peace." If therefore they observe the same as those of whom they have learnt, their hearers shall know the teacher by the disciples, but if they quarrel, men shall deny that they are the disciples of a God of peace, and will not allow that I, not being peaceable, have been sent from Thee. Seest thou how, unto the end, He proveth His unanimity with the Father?
Ver. 22. "And the glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them."(2)
That by miracles, that by doctrines,(3) and, that they should be of one soul; for this is glory, that they should be one, and greater even than miracles. As men(4) admire God because there is no strife or discord in That Nature, and this is His greatest glory, "so too let these," He saith, "from this cause become glorious." "And how," saith some one, "doth He ask the Father to give this to them, when He sixth that He Himself giveth it?" Whether His discourse be concerning miracles, or unanimity, or peace, He is seen Himself to have given these things to them; whence it is clear that the petition is made for the sake of their comfort.
Ver. 23. "I in them, and Thou in Me." "How gave He the glory?" By being in them, and having the Father with Him, so as to weld them(5) together. But in another place He speaketh not so; He saith not that the Father cometh by Him, but, "that He and the Father come, and take up their abode with him,"(6) "there" removing the suspicion of Sabellius, "here" that of Arius.(7)
"That they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me." (c. xiv. 23.)
He saith these latter words immediately after the other, to show that peace hath more power to attract men than a miracle; for as it is the nature of strife(8) to separate, so it is that of agreement to weld together.
"And I have(9) loved them as Thou hast loved Me."
Here again the "as" means, as far as it is possible for a man to be loved; and the sure proof of His love is His giving Himself for them. After having told them that they shall be in safety, that they shall not be overturned, that they shall be holy, that many shall believe through them, that they shall enjoy great glory, that not He alone loved them, but the Father also; He next telleth them of what shah be after their sojourning here,(10) concerning the prizes and crowns laid up for them.
Ver. 24. "Father," He saith, "I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am."
"Then dost Thou gain by prayer, and dost Thou not yet possess that concerning which they enquired continually, saying, 'Whither goest Thou?' What sayest Thou? How then didst Thou say to them, 'Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones'? (Matt. xix. 28.) How didst Thou promise other things more and greater?" Seest thou that He saith all(11) in the way of condescension? since how would He have said, "Thou shalt follow afterwards"? (c. xiii. 36.) But He speaketh thus with a view to a fuller conviction and demonstration of His love.
"That they may behold My glory which Thou hast given Me."
This again is a sign of His being of one mind with the Father, of a higher character than those former, for He saith, "Before(12) the foundation of the world," yet hath it also a certain condescension; for, "Thou hast given Me," He saith. Now if this be not the case, I would gladly ask the gainsayers a question. He that giveth, giveth to one subsisting;(13) did the Father then, having first begotten the Son, afterwards give Him glory, having before allowed Him to be without glory? And how could this be reasonable? Seest that the "He gave," is, "He begot"?
[3.] But why said He not, "That they may share My glory," instead of, "That they may behold My glory"? Here He implieth, that all that rest is, the looking on the Son of God. This certainly it is which causes them to be glorified; as Paul saith, "With open face mirroring the glory of the Lord." (2 Cor. iii. 18.) For as they who look on the sunbeams, and enjoy a very clear atmosphere, draw their enjoyment from their sight, so then also, and in much greater degree, this will cause us pleasure.(1) At the same time also He showeth, that what they should behold was not the body then seen, but some awful Substance.
Ver. 25. "O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee." (2)
What meaneth this? What connection hath it? He here showeth that no man knoweth God, save those only who have come to know the Son. And what He saith is of this kind: "I wished all to be so,(3) yet they have not known Thee, although they had no complaint against Thee." For this is the meaning of, "O righteous Father." And here He seemeth to me to speak these words, as vexed that they would not know One so just and good. For since the Jews had said that they knew God, but that He knew Him not, at this He aimeth, saying, "For Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world"; thus putting together a defense against the accusations of the Jews. For how could He who had received glory, who was loved before the foundation of the world, who desired to have them as witnesses of that glory, how could He be opposed to the Father? "This then is not true which the Jews say, that they know Thee, and that I know Thee not; on the contrary, I know Thee, and they have not known Thee."
"And these have known that Thou hast sent Me."
Seest thou that He alludeth to those, who said that He was not from God, and all is finally summed up to meet this argument?
Ver. 26. "And I have declared unto them Thy Name, and will declare it."
"Yet thou sayest that perfect knowledge is from the Spirit." "But the things of the Spirit are Mine."
"That the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may remain(4) in them, and I in them."
"For if they learn who Thou art, then they shall know that I am not separated from Thee, but one of the greatly beloved, and a true Son, and closely knit to Thee. And those who are rightly persuaded of this, will keep both the faith which is on Me and perfect love; and while they love as they ought, I remain in them." Seest thou how He hath arrived(5) at a good end, finishing off the discourse with love, the mother of all blessings?
[4.] Let us then believe and love God, that it may not be said of us, "They profess that they know God, but in their works they deny Him." (Tit. i. 16.) And again, "He hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (1 Tim. v. 8.) For when he(6) helps his domestics and kinsmen and strangers, while thou dost not even succor those who are related to thee by family, what will henceforth be thy excuse, when God is blasphemed and insulted by reason of thee? Consider what opportunities of doing good God hath given to us. "Have mercy on one," He saith, "as a kinsman, on another as a friend, on another as a neighbor, on another as a citizen, on another as a man." And if none of these things hold thee, but thou breakest through all bonds, hear from Paul, that thou art "worse than an infidel"; for he having heard nothing of almsgiving, or of heavenly things, hath overshot thee in love for man; but thou who art bidden to love thy very enemies, lookest upon thy friends as enemies, and art more careful of thy money than of their bodies. Yet the money by being spent will sustain no injury, but thy brother if neglected will perish. What madness then to be careful of money, and careless about one's kindred? Whence hath this craving for riches burst in upon us?(7) Whence this inhumanity and cruelty? For if any one could, as though seated on the highest bench of a theater, look down upon all the world,--or rather, if you will, let us for the present take in hand a single city,--if then a man seated on an elevated spot could take in at a glance all the doings of the men there, consider what folly he would condemn, what tears he would weep, what laughter he would laugh, with what hatred he would hate; for we commit such actions as deserve both laughter, and the charge of folly, and tears, and hatred. One man keeps dogs to catch brute animals, himself sinking into brutality; another keeps oxen and asses to transport stones, but neglects men wasting with hunger; and spends gold without limit to make men of stone, but neglects real men, who are becoming like stones through their evil state. Another, collecting with great pains golden quarries,(9) puts them about his walls, but when he beholds the naked bellies of the poor, is not moved.(10) Some again contrive garments over their very garments, while their brother hath not even wherewithal to cover his naked body. Again, one hath swallowed up another in the law- courts; another hath spent his money on women and parasites, another on stage-players and theatrical bands,(1) another on splendid edifices, on purchases of fields and houses. Again, one man is counting interest, another interest of interest; another is putting together(2) bands full of many deaths, and doth not enjoy rest even at night, lying awake for others' harm. Then, when it is day, they run, one to his unjust gain, another to his wanton expense, others to public robbery.(3) And great is the earnestness about things superfluous and forbidden, but of things necessary no account is taken; and they who decide questions of law have indeed the name of jurymen, but are really(4) thieves and murderers. And if one should enquire into law suits and wills, he would find there again ten thousand mischiefs, frauds, robberies, plots, and about these things is all time spent; but for spiritual things there is no care, and they all inconvenience the Church, for the sake of seeing only. But this is not what is required; we need works, and a pure mind.(3) But if thou spendest all the day in grasping after riches, and then coming in sayest a few words, thou hast not only not propitiated God, but hast even angered Him more. Wouldest thou conciliate thy Lord, exhibit works, make thyself acquainted with the mass of woes, look upon the naked, the hungry, the wronged; He hath cut out for thee ten thousand ways of showing love for men. Let us not then deceive ourselves by living aimlessly and to no purpose, nor presume, because we now are in health; but bearing in mind, that often when we have fallen into sickness, and have reached the extreme of debility, we have been dead with fear and the looking for things to come, let us expect to fall again into the same state, let us get again the same fear, and let us become better men; since what is done now deserves infinite condemnation. For those in the courts of justice are like lions and dogs; those in the public places like foxes; and those who lead a life of leisure, even they do not use their leisure as they ought, speeding all their time on theaters and the mischiefs arising from them. And there is no one to reprove what is being done; but there are many who envy, and are vexed that they are not in the like condition,(7) so that these in their turn are punished, though not actually doing wicked things. For they "not only do these things, but also have pleasure in them that do them." Because what belongs to their will is alike(8) corrupt; whence it is plain, that the intention also will be punished. These things I say each day, and I will not cease to say them. For if any listen, it is gain; but if none give heed, ye shall then hear these things, when it will avail you nothing, and ye shall blame yourselves, and we shall be flee from fault. But may it never come to pass that we should only have this excuse, but that you may be our boast before the judgment-seat of Christ, that together we may enjoy the blessings, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
HOMILY LXXXIII: JOHN xviii. 1.
"When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples."
[1.] AN awful thing is death, and very full of terror, but not to those who have learnt the true wisdom which is above. For he that knows nothing certain concerning things to come, but deems its to be a certain dissolution and end of life, with reason shudders and is afraid, as though he were passing into non-existence. But we who, by the grace of God, have learnt the hidden and secret things of His wisdom, and deem the action to be a departure to another place, should have no reason to tremble, but rather to rejoice and be glad, that leaving this perishable life we go to one far better and brighter, and which hath no end. Which Christ teaching by His actions, goeth to His Passion, not by constraint and necessity, but willingly. "These things," it saith, "Jesus spoke, and departed 'beyond the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples.'"
Ver. 2. "Judas also, which betrayed Him, knew the place; for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with His disciples."
He journeyeth at midnight, and crosseth a river, and hasteth to come to a place known to the traitor, lessening the labor to those who plotted against Him, and freeing them from all trouble; and showeth to the disciples that He came willingly to the action, (a thing which was most of all sufficient to comfort them,) and placeth Himself in the garden as in a prison.
"These things spake Jesus unto them." "What sayest thou?(1) Surely He was speaking with the Father, surely He was praying. Why then dost thou not say that, 'having ceased from the prayer,' He came there?" Because it was not prayer, but a speech made on account of the disciples. "And the disciples entered into the garden." He had so freed them from fear that they no longer resisted, but entered with Him into the garden. But how came Judas there, or whence had he gained his information when he came? It is evident from this circumstance, that Jesus generally(2) passed the night out of doors.(3) For had He been in the habit of spending it at home, Judas would not have come to the desert, but to the house, expecting there to find Him asleep. And lest, hearing of a "garden," thou shouldest think that Jesus hid Himself, it addeth, that "Judas knew the place"; and not simply so,(4) but that He "often resorted thither with His disciples." For ofttimes He was with them apart, conversing on necessary matters, and such as it was not permitted to others to hear. And He did this especially in mountains and gardens, seeking a place free from disturbance, that their attention might not be distracted from listening.
Ver. 3. "Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the Chief Priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns, and torches, and weapons."
And these men had often at other times sent to seize Him, but had not been able; whence it is plain, that at this time He voluntarily surrendered Himself. And how did they persuade the band? They were soldiers,(5) who had made it their practice to do anything for money.
Ver. 4. "Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said, Whom seek ye?"
That is, He did not wait to learn this from their coming, but spake and acted without confusion, as knowing all these things. "But why come they with weapons, when about to seize Him?" They feared His followers, and for this reason they came upon Him late at night. "And He went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?"
Ver. 5. "They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth."(6))
Seest thou His invincible power, how being in the midst of them He disabled their eyes? for that the darkness was not the cause of their not knowing Him, the Evangelist hath shown, by saying, that they had torches also. And even had there been no torches, they ought at least to have known Him by His voice; or if they did not know it, how could Judas be ignorant, who had been so continually with Him? for he too stood with them, and knew Him no more than they, but with them fell backward. And Jesus did this to show, that not only they could not seize Him, but could not even see Him when in the midst, unless He gave permission.
Ver. 7. "He saith again, Whom seek ye?"(7) What madness! His word threw them backward, yet not even so did they turn, when they had learnt that His power was so great, but again set themselves to the same attempt. When therefore He had fulfilled all that was His, then He gave Himself up.
Ver. 8. "He answered, I told you that I Am." (Ver. 5. "And Judas also which betrayed Him stood with them.")
See the forbearance(8) of the Evangelist, how he doth not insult over the traitor, but relates what took place, only desiring to prove one thing, that the whole took place with His own consent. Then, lest any one should say that He Himself brought them to this, by having placed Himself into their hands, and revealed Himself to them; after having shown to them all things which should have been sufficient to repulse them, when they persevered in their wickedness, and had no excuse, He put Himself in their hands, saying,
"If therefore ye seek Me, let these go their Way."
Manifesting until the last hour His lovingkindness towards them. "If," He saith, "ye want Me, have nothing to do with these, for, behold, I give Myself up."
Ver. 9. "That the saying might be fulfilled which He spake, Of those which Thou gavest Me have I lost none."
By "loss"(9) He doth not here mean that which is of death, but that which is eternal; though the Evangelist in the present case includes the former also. And one might wonder why they did not seize them with Him, and cut them to pieces, especially when Peter had exasperated them by what he did to the servant. Who then restrained them? No other than that Power which cast them backward. And so the Evangelist, to show that it did not come to pass through their intention, but by the power and decree of Him whom they had seized, has added, "That the saying might be fulfilled which He spake," that "not one, &c." (c. xvii.
[2.] Peter, therefore, taking courage from His voice, and from what had already happened, arms himself against the assailants? "And how," saith some one, "doth he who was bidden not to have a scrip, not to have two coats, possess a sword?" Methinks he had prepared it long before, as fearing this very thing which came to pass. But if thou sayest, "How doth he, who was forbidden even to strike a blow with the hand, become a manslayer?" He certainly had been commanded not to defend himself, but here he did not defend himself, but his Master. And besides, they were not as yet perfect or complete. But if thou desirest to see Peter endued with heavenly wisdom, thou shalt after this behold him wounded, and bearing it meekly, suffering ten thousand dreadful things, and not moved to anger. But Jesus here also worketh a miracle, both showing that we ought to do good to those who do evil to us, and revealing His own power. He therefore restored the servant's ear, and said to Peter, that "All they that take the sword shall perish by the sword" (Matt. xxvi. 52); and as He did in the case of the basin, when He relaxed his vehemence(2) by a threat, so also here. The Evangelist adds the name of the servant, because the thing done was very great, not only because He healed him, but because He healed one who had come against Him, and who shortly after would buffet Him, and because He stayed the war which was like to have been kindled from this circumstance against the disciples. For this cause the Evangelist hath put the name, so that the men of that time might search and enquire diligently whether these things had really come to pass. And not without a cause doth he mention the "right ear," but as I think desiring to show the impetuosity of the Apostle, that he almost aimed at the head itself. Yet Jesus not only restraineth him by a threat, but also calmeth him by other words, saying,
Ver. 11. "The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?"(3)
Showing, that what was done proceeded not from their power, but from His consent, and declaring that He was not one opposed to God but obedient to the Father even unto death.
Ver. 12, 13. "Then Jesus was taken; and they bound Him, and led Him away to Annas."(4)
Why to Annas? In their pleasure they made a show of(5) what had been done, as though forsooth they had set up a trophy.
"And he was father-in-law to Caiaphas." Ver. 14. "Now Caiaphas was he which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people."
Why doth the Evangelist again remind us of his prophecy? To show that these things were done for our salvation. And such is the exceeding force of truth, that even enemies proclaimed these things beforehand. For lest the listener, hearing of bonds, should be confounded, he reminds him of that prophecy, that the death of Jesus was the salvation of the world.
Ver. 15. "And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple." (6)
Who is that other disciple? It is the writer himself. "And wherefore doth he not name himself? When he lay on the bosom of Jesus, he with reason concealed his name; but now why doth he this?" For the same reason, for here too he mentions a great good deed, that when all had started away,(7) he followed. Therefore he conceals himself, and puts Peter before him. He was obliged to mention himself, that thou mightest understand that he narrates more exactly than the rest what took place in the hall, as having been himself within. But observe how he detracts from his own praise; for, lest any one should ask, "How, when all had retreated, did this man enter in farther than Simon?" he saith, that he "was known to the high priest." So that no one should wonder that he followed, or cry him up for his manliness. But the wonder was that matter of Peter, that being in such fear, he came even as far as the hall, when the others had retreated. His coming thither Was caused by love, his not entering within by distress and fear. For the Evangelist hath recorded these things, to clear a way for excusing his denial; with regard to himself, he doth not set it down as any great matter that he was known to the high priest, but since he had said that he alone with Jesus went in, lest thou shouldest suppose that the action proceeded from any exalted feelings, he puts also the cause. And that Peter would have also entered had he been permitted, he shows by the sequel; for when he went out, and bade the damsel who kept the door bring in Peter, he straightway came in. But why did he not bring him in himself? He clung to Christ, and followed Him; on this account he bade(1) the woman bring him in. What then saith the woman?
Ver. 17. "Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? And he saith, I am not."(2)
What sayest thou, Peter? Didst thou not declare but now, "If need be that I lay down my life for Thee, I will lay it down"? What hath happened then, that thou canst not even endure the questioning of a door-keeper? Is it a soldier who questions thee? Is it one of those who seized Him? No, it is a mean and abject door-keeper, nor is the questioning of a rough kind.(3) She saith not, "Art thou a disciple of that cheat and corrupter," but, "of that man," which was the expression rather of one pitying and relenting.(4) But Peter could not bear any of these words. The, "Art not thou also," is said on this account, that John was within. So mildly did the woman speak. But he perceived none of this, nor took it into his mind, neither the first time, nor the second, nor the third, but when the cock crew; nor did this even bring him to his senses, till Jesus gave him the bitter look. And he stood warming himself(5) with the servants of the high priest, but Christ was kept bound within. This we say not as accusing Peter, but showing the truth of what had been said by Christ.
Ver. 19. "The high priest then asked Jesus of His disciples, and of His doctrine."
[3.] O the wickedness! Though he had continually heard Him speaking in the temple and teaching openly, he now desires to be informed. For since they had no charge to bring, they enquired concerning His disciples, perhaps where they were, and why He had collected them, and with what intention, and on what terms. And this he said, as desiring to prove Him to be a seditious person and an innovator, since no one gave heed to Him, except them alone, as though His were some factory of wickedness. What then saith Christ? To overthrow this, He saith,
Ver. 20. "I spake openly to the world, (not to the disciples privately,) I taught openly in, the temple."(6)
"What then, said He nothing in secret?" He did, but not, as they thought, from fear, and to make conspiracies, but if at any time His sayings were too high for the hearing of the many.
Ver. 21. "Why askest thou Me? Ask them which heard Me."(7)
These are not the words of one speaking arrogantly, but of one confiding in the truth of what He had said. What therefore He said at the beginning, "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true" (c. v. 31), this He now implieth, desiring to render His testimony abundantly credible. For when Annas mentioned the disciples,(8) what saith He? "Dost thou ask Me concerning Mine? Ask Mine enemies, ask those who have plotted against Me, who have bound Me; let them speak." This is an unquestionable proof of truth, when one calls his enemies to be witnesses to what he saith. What then doth the high priest? When it would have been right thus to have made the enquiry, that person did not so.
Vet. 22. "And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by smote Him with the palm of his hand."(9)
What could be more audacious than this? Shudder, O heaven, be astounded, O earth, at the long-suffering of the Lord, and the senselessness of the servants! Yet what was it that He said? He said not, "Why askest thou Me," as if refusing to speak, but wishing to remove every pretext for senseless behavior; and being upon this buffeted, though He was able to shake, to annihilate, or to remove all things, He doth not any one of these, but speaketh words able to relax any brutality.
Ver. 23. "And He saith, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil."(10)
That is, "If thou canst lay hold on My words, declare it; but if thou canst not, why strikest thou Me?" Seest thou that the judgment-hall is full of tumult, and trouble, and passion, and confusion? The high priest asked deceitfully and treacherously, Christ answered in a straightforward manner, and as was meet. What then was next to be done? Either to refute, or to accept what He said. This however is not done, but a servant buffets Him. So far was this from being a court of justice, and the proceedings those of a conspiracy, and a deed of tyranny. Then not having even so made any farther discovery, they send Him bound to Caiaphas.(11)
Ver. 25. "And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself."
Wonderful, by what a lethargy(12) that hot and furious one was possessed, when Jesus was being led away! After such things as had taken place, he doth not move, but still warms himself, that thou mayest learn how great is the weakness of our nature if God abandoneth. And, being questioned, he denies again.(1)
Ver. 26. Then saith "the kinsman(2) of him whose ear Peter cut off, (grieving at what had taken place,) Did I not see thee in the garden?"(3)
But neither did the garden bring him to remember what had taken place,(4) nor the great affection which Jesus there had shown by those words, but all these from pressure of anxiety he banished from his mind. But why have the Evangelists with one accord written concerning him? Not as accusing the disciple, but as desiring to teach us, how great an evil it is not to commit all to God, but to trust to one's self. But do thou admire the tender care of his Master, who, though a prisoner and bound, took great forethought for His disciple, raising Peter up, when he was down, by His look, and launching him into a sea of tears.(5)
"They lead Him therefore from Caiaphas to Pilate." (6)
This was done, in order that the number of His judges might show, even against their will, how fully tested was His truth. "And it was early." Before cock crow He was brought to Caiaphas, early in the morning to Pilate; whence the Evangelist shows, that being questioned by Caiaphas during an entire half of the night, He was in nothing proved guilty; wherefore Caiaphas sent Him on to Pilate. But leaving these things for the others to relate, John speaks of what follows next. And observe the ridiculous conduct of the Jews. They who had seized the innocent, and taken up arms, do not enter into the hall of judgment, "lest they should be polluted.'' And tell me, what kind of pollution was it to set foot in a judgment-hall, where wrong-doers suffer justice? They who paid tithes of mint and anise, did not think they were polluted when bent on killing unjustly, but thought that they polluted themselves by even treading in a court of justice. "And why did they not kill Him, instead of bringing Him to Pilate?" In the first place, the greater part of their rule and authority had been cut away, when their affairs were placed under the power of the Romans; and besides, they feared lest they should afterwards be accused and punished by Him. "But what is, 'That they might eat the Passover?' For He had done this on the first day of unleavened bread." Either he calls the whole feast "the Passover," or means, that they were then keeping the Passover, while He delivered it to His followers one day sooner, reserving His own Sacrifice for(7) the Preparation-day, when also of old the Passover was celebrated. But they, though they had taken up arms, which was unlawful, and were shedding blood, are scrupulous about the place, and bring forth Pilate to them.
Ver. 29. "And having gone out, he said. What accusation bring ye against this man?"
[4.] Seest thou that he was free from(8) fondness for rule and from malice? For seeing Jesus bound, and led by so many persons, he did not think that they had unquestionable proof of their accusation, but questions them, thinking it a strange thing that they should take for themselves the judgment, and then commit the punishment without any judgment to him. What then say they?
Ver. 30. "If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee."
O madness! for why do ye not mention His evil deeds, instead of concealing them? Why do ye not prove the evil? Seest thou that they everywhere avoid a direct accusation, and that they can say nothing? That Annas questioned Him about His doctrine, and having heard Him, sent Him to Caiaphas; and he having in his turn questioned Him, and discovered, nothing, sent Him to Pilate. Pilate saith, "What accusation bring ye against this man?" Nor here have they anything to say, but again employ certain(9) conjectures. At which Pilate being perplexed saith,
Ver. 31, 32. "Take ye him and judge him according to your law. They therefore said, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death," But this they said, "that the saying of the Lord might be fulfilled, which He spake, signifying by what death He should die."
"And how did the expression, 'It is not lawful for us to put any man to death,' declare this?" Either the Evangelist means that He was about to be slain not by the Jews only, but by(10) the Gentiles also, or that it was not lawful for them to crucify. But if they say, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death," they say it with reference to that season. For that they did slay men, and that they slew them in a different way, Stephen shows, being stoned. But they desired to crucify Him, that they might make a display of the manner of His death. Pilate, wishing to be freed from trouble, doth not dismiss Him for a long trial, but,
Ver. 33, 34. "Having entered in, he asked Jesus, and said,(11) Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?"
Wherefore did Christ ask this? Because He desired to expose the evil intentions of the Jews. Pilate had heard this saying from many, and, since the accusers had nothing to say, in order that the enquiry might not be a long one, he desires to bring forward that which was continually reported. But when he said to them, "Judge him according to your law," wishing to show that His offense was not a Jewish one, they replied, "It is not lawful for us." "He hath not sinned against our law, but the indictment is general."(1) Pilate then, having perceived this, saith, as being (himself) likely to be endangered, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" Then Jesus, not from ignorance, but from a desire that the Jews should be accused even by him, asked him, saying, "Did others tell it thee?"(2) On this point then declaring himself, Pilate replied,
Ver. 35. "Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me; what hast thou done?"
Here desiring to clear himself of the matter. Then because he had said, "Art thou the King?" Jesus reproving him answereth, "This thou hast heard from the Jews. Why dost thou not make accurate enquiry? They have said that I am a malefactor; ask them what evil I have done. But this thou doest not, but art simply framing charges against Me." "Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself," or from others? Pilate then cannot at once say that he had heard it, but simply goes along with(3) the people, saying, "They have delivered thee unto me." "I must needs therefore ask thee what thou hast done." What then saith Christ?
Ver. 36. "My Kingdom is not of this world."
He leadeth upwards Pilate who was not a very wicked man, nor after their fashion, and desireth to show that He is not a mere man, but God and the Son of God And what saith He?
"If My Kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews."(4)
He undoeth that which Pilate for a while had feared, namely, the suspicion of seizing kingly power, "Is then His kingdom not of this world also?"(5) Certainly it is. "How then saith He it 'is not'?" Not because He doth not rule here, but because He hath his empire from above, and because it is not human, but far greater than this and more splendid. "If then it be greater, how was He made captive by the other?" By consenting, and giving Himself up. But He doth not at present reveal(6) this, but what saith He? "If I had been of this world, 'My servants would fight, that I should not be delivered.'" Here He showeth the weakness of kingship among us, that its strength lies in servants; but that which is above is sufficient for itself, needing nothing. From this the heretics taking occasion say, that He is different from the Creator. What then, when it saith, "He came to His own"? (c. i. 11.) What, when Himself saith, "They are not of this world, as I am not of this world"? (c. xvii. 14.) So also He saith that His kingdom is not from hence, not depriving the world of His providence and superintendence, but showing, as I said, that His power was not human or perishable. What then said Pilate?
Ver. 37. "Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born."
If then He was born a king, all His other attributes are by Generation, and He hath nothing which He received in addition. So that when thou hearest that, "As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son also to have life" (c. v. 26), deem of nothing else but His generation, and so of the rest.
"And for this cause came I,(7) that I should bear witness unto the truth."
That is, "that I should speak this very thing, and teach it, and persuade all men."
[5.] But do thou, O man, when thou hearest these things, and seest thy Lord bound and led about, deem present things to be nought. For how can it be otherwise than strange, if Christ bore such things for thy sake, and thou often canst not endure even words? He is spit upon, and dost thou deck thyself with garments and rings, and, if thou gain not good report from all, think life unbearable? He is insulted, beareth mockings, and scornful blows upon the cheek; and dost thou wish everywhere to be honored, and bearest thou not the reproaching of Christ? Hearest thou not Paul saying, "Be ye imitators(8) of me, even as I also am of Christ"?(1 Cor. xi. 1.) When therefore any one makes a jest of thee, remember thy Lord, that in mockery they bowed the knee before Him, and worried (9) Him both by words and deeds, and treated Him with much irony; but He not only did not defend Himself, but even repaid them with the contraries, with mildness and gentleness. Him now let us emulate; so shall we be enabled even to be delivered from all insult. For it is not the insulter that gives effect to acts of insult, and makes them biting, but he who is little of soul, and is pained by them. If thou art not pained, thou hast not been insulted; for the suffering from injuries depends not on those who inflict, but on those who undergo them. Why dost thou grieve at all? If a man hath insulted thee unjustly, in this case surely thou oughtest not to grieve at all, but to pity him; if justly, much more oughtest thou to keep quiet. For should any one address thee, a poor man, as though thou wert rich, the praise contained in his words is nothing to thee, but his encomium is rather mockery; and so if one insulting thee utter things that are untrue, the reproach is nothing to thee either. But if conscience takes hold of what hath been said, be not grieved at the words, but make correction in deeds. This I say with regard to what really are insults. For if one reproach thee with poverty or low birth, laugh at him.(1) These things are a reproach not to the hearer, but to the speaker, as not knowing true wisdom. "But," saith some one, "when these things are said in the presence of many who are ignorant of the truth, the wound becomes unbearable." Nay, it is most bearable, when you have an audience present of witnesses praising and applauding you, scoffing at and making a jest of him. For not he that defends himself, but he that saith nothing, is applauded by sensible persons. And if none of those present be a sensible person, then laugh at him most of all, and delight thyself in the audience of heaven. For there all will praise and applaud and welcome thee. For one Angel is as good as all the world. But why speak I of Angels, when the Lord Himself proclaimeth(2) thee? Let us exercise ourselves with these reasonings. For it is no loss to be silent when insulted, but it is, on the contrary, to defend one's self when insulted. Since were it a fault silently to bear what is said, Christ would never have told us, "If one smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matt. v. 39.)(3) If then our enemy say what is not true, let us on this account even pity him, because he draws down upon him the punishment and vengeance of the accusers,(4) being unworthy even to read the Scriptures. For to the sinner God saith, "Why declarest thou My statutes, and takest My covenant in thy mouth? Thou satest and spakest against thy brother." (Ps. 1. 16 and 20, LXX.) And if he speak the truth, so also he is to be pitied; since even the Pharisee spake the truth; yet he did no harm to him who heard him, but rather good, while he deprived himself of ten thousand blessings, enduring shipwreck by this accusation, So that either way it is he that suffers injury, not thou; but thou, if thou art sober, wilt have double gain; both the propitiating God by thy silence, and the becoming yet more discreet, the gaining an opportunity from what hath been said to correct what has been done, and the despising mortal glory. For this is the source of our pain, that many gape upon the opinion of men. If we are minded to be thus truly wise, we shall know well that human things are nothing. Let us learn then, and having reckoned up our faults, let us accomplish their correction in time, and let us determine to correct one this month, another next month, and a third in that which follows. And so mounting as it were by steps, let us get to heaven by a Jacob's ladder. For the ladder seems to me to signify in a riddle by that vision the gradual ascent by means of virtue, by which it is possible for us to ascend from earth to heaven, not using material steps, but improvement and correction of manners. Let us then lay hold on this means of departure and ascent, that having obtained heaven, we may also enjoy all the blessings there, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
HOMILY LXXXIV: JOHN xviii. 37.
To this end was I horn, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My Voice."
[1.] A MARVELOUS thing is longsuffering; it places the soul as in a quiet harbor, fleeing it from tossings(1) and evil spirits. And this everywhere Christ hath taught us, but especially now, when He is judged, and dragged, and led about. For when He was brought to Annas, He answered with great gentleness, and, to the servant who smote Him, said what had power to bring down all his insolence; thence having gone to Caiaphas, then to Pilate, and having spent the whole night in these scenes, He all through exhibiteth His own mildness; and when they said that He was a malefactor, and were not able to prove it, He stood silent; but when He was questioned concerning the Kingdom, then He spake to Pilate, instructing him, and leading him in to(2) higher matters. But why was it that Pilate made the enquiry not in their presence, but apart, having gone into the judgment hall? He suspected something great respecting Him, and wished, without being troubled by the Jews, to learn all accurately. Then when he said, "What hast thou done?" on this point Jesus made no answer; but concerning that of which Pilate most desired to hear, namely, His Kingdom, He answered, saying, "My Kingdom is not of this world." That is, "I am indeed a King, yet not such an one as thou suspectest, but far more glorious," declaring(3) by these words and those which follow, that no evil had been done by Him. For one who saith, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth," showeth, that no evil hath been done by Him. Then when He saith, "Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice," He draweth him on by these means, and persuadeth him to become a listener to the words. "For if," saith He, "any one is true, and desireth these things,(4) he will certainly hear Me." And, in fact, He so took him by these short words, that he said,
Ver. 38. "What is truth?"
But for the present he applieth himself to what was pressing, for he knew that this question needed time, and desired to rescue Him from the violence of the Jews. Wherefore he went out, and what said he?
"I find no fault in him."(5)
Consider how prudently he acted. He said not, "Since he hath sinned, and is deserving of death, forgive him on account of the Feast";(6) but having first acquitted Him of all guilt, he asks them over and above, if they were not minded to dismiss Him as innocent, yet as guilty to forgive Him on account of the time. Wherefore he added,
Ver. 39, 40. "Ye have a custom that I should release unto you one at the Passover"; then in a persuasory way, "Will ye therefore that I release the king of the Jews? Then cried they all, Not this man, but Barabbas."(7)
O accursed decision! They demand those like mannered with themselves, and let the guilty go; but bid him punish the innocent. For this was their custom from old time. But do thou all through observe the lovingkindness of the Lord in these circumstances. Pilate scourged Him(8) perhaps desiring to exhaust and to soothe the fury of the Jews. For when he had not been able to deliver Him by his former measures, being anxious to stay the evil at this point, he scourged Him, and permitted to be done what was done, the robe and crown to be put on Him, so as to relax their anger. Wherefore also he led Him forth to them crowned (ver. 5 ), that, seeing the insult which had been done to Him, they might recover a little from their passion, and vomit their venom. "And how would the soldiers have done this, had it not been the command of their ruler?" To gratify the Jews. Since it was not by his command that they at first went in(9) by night, but to please the Jews; they dared anything for money. But He, when so many and such things were done, yet stood silent, as He had done during the enquiry, and answered nothing. And do thou not merely hear these things, but keep them continually in thy mind, and when thou beholdest the King of the world and of all Angels, mocked of the soldiers, by words and by actions, and bearing all silently, do thou imitate Him by deeds thyself. For when Pilate had called Him the King of the Jews, and they now put about Him the apparel of mockery, then Pilate having led Him out, said,
Ver. 4, 5. "I find no fault against him. He therefore went forth, wearing the crown."(1)
But not even so was their rage quenched, but they cried out,
Ver. 6. "Crucify him, crucify him."(2)
Then Pilate, seeing that all was done in vain, said,
"Take ye him, and crucify him."
Whence it is clear that he had permitted what had been done before, because of their madness.
"For I," he saith, "find no fault in him."
[2.] See in how many ways the judge makes His defense, continually acquitting Him of the charges; but none of these things shamed the dogs from their purpose. For the, "Take ye him and crucify him," is the expression of one clearing himself of the guilt, and thrusting them forward to an action not permitted to them. They therefore had brought Him, in order that the thing might be done by the decision of the governor; but the contrary fell out, that He was rather acquitted than condemned by the governor's decision. Then, because they were ashamed,
Ver. 7. "We have," they said, "a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God."
"How then when the judge said, 'Take ye him, and judge him according to your law,' did ye reply, 'It is not lawful for us to put any man to death,' while here ye fly to the law? And consider the charge, 'He made himself the Son of God.' Tell me, is this a ground of accusation, that He who performed the deeds of the Son of God should call Himself the Son of God?" What then doth Christ? While they held this dialogue one with the other, He held His peace, fulfilling that saying of the Prophet, that "He openeth not his mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away." (Isa. liii. 7, 8, LXX.)
Then Pilate is alarmed(3) when he hears from them, that He made Himself the Son of God, and dreads lest the assertion may possibly be true, and he should seem to transgress; but these men who had learnt this, both by His deeds and words, did not shudder, but are putting Him to death for the very reasons for which they ought to have worshiped Him. On this account he no more asks Him, "What hast thou done?" but, shaken by fear, he begins the enquiry again, saying, "Art thou the Christ?" But He answered not. For he who had heard, "To this end was I born, and for this came I," and, "My Kingdom is not of this world," he, when he ought to have opposed His enemies and delivered Him, did not so, but seconded the fury of the Jews. Then they being in every way silenced, make their cry issue in a political charge, saying, "He that maketh himself a king, speaketh against Caesar." (Ver. 12.) Pilate ought therefore to have accurately enquired, whether He had aimed at sovereignty, and set His hand to expel Caesar from the kingdom. But he makes not an exact enquiry, and therefore Christ answered him nothing, because He knew that he asked all the questions idly.(4) Besides, since His works bare witness to Him, He would not prevail by word, nor compose any defense, showing that He came voluntarily to this condition. When He was silent, Pilate saith,
Ver. 10. "Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee?"(5)
Seest thou how he condemned himself beforehand; for, "if the whole rests with thee, why dost not thou let Him go, when thou hast found no fault in Him?" When then Pilate had uttered the sentence against himself, then He saith,
Ver. 11. "He that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin."
Showing that he also was guilty of sin. Then, to pull down his pride and arrogance, He saith,
"Thou wouldst have no power except it were given thee."(6)
Showing that this did not come to pass merely in the common order of events,(7) but that it was accomplished mystically. Then lest, when thou hearest, "Except it were given thee," thou shouldest deem that Pilate was exempt from all blame, on this account therefore He said, "Therefore he that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin." "And yet if it was given, neither he nor they were liable to any charge." "Thou objectest idly; for the 'given' in this place means what is ' allowed '; as though He had said, 'He hath permitted these things to be, yet not for that are ye clear of the wickedness."' He awed Pilate by the words, and proffered a clear defense. On which account that person sought to release Him; but they again cried out, saying,(8)
Ver. 12. "If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend."
For when they profited nothing by bringing charges drawn from their own law, they wickedly betook themselves to external laws, saying,
"Every one that maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar."
And where hath this Man appeared as a tyrant? Whence can ye prove it? By the purple robe? By the diadem? By the dress?(1) By the soldiers? Did not He ever walk unattended, save by His twelve disciples, following in every point a humble mode of living, both as to food, and clothing, and habitation? But O what shamelessness and ill- time cowardice! For Pilate, deeming that he should now incur some danger were he to overlook these words, comes forth as though to enquire into the matter,(2) (for the "sitting down" showed this,) but without making(3) any enquiry, he gave Him up to them, thinking to shame them. For to prove that he did it for this purpose, hear what he saith.
Ver. 14, 15. "Behold your king!" But when they said, "Crucify him," he added again, "Shall I crucify your king?" But they cried out, "We have no king but Caesar."(4)
Of their own will they subjected themselves to punishment; therefore also God gave them up, because they were the first to cast themselves out from His providence and superintendence; and since with one voice they rejected His sovereignty, He allowed them to fall by their own suffrages. Still what had been said should have been sufficient to calm their passion, but they feared, lest, being let go, He should again draw the multitudes, and they did all they could to prevent this. For a dreadful thing is love of rule, dreadful and able to destroy the soul; it was on account of this that they had never heard Him. And yet Pilate, in consequence of a few words, desired to let Him go, but they pressed on, saying, "Crucify him." And why did they strive to kill Him in this manner? It was a shameful death. Fearing therefore lest there should afterwards be any remembrance of Him, they desired to bring Him to the accursed punishment, not knowing that truth is exalted by hindrances. To prove that they had this suspicion, listen to what they say;(5) "We have heard that that deceiver said, After three days I will rise again" (Matt. xxvii. 63); on this account they made all this stir, turning things upside down,(6) that they might ruin matters in after time.(7) And the ill-ordered people, corrupted by their rulers, cried out continually, "Crucify him!"
[3.] But let us not merely read of these things, but bear them in our mind; the crown of thorns, the robe, the reed, the blows, the smiting on the cheek, the spittings, the irony. These things, if continually meditated on, are sufficient to take down all anger; and if we be mocked at, if we suffer injustice, let us still say, "The servant is not greater than his Lord" (c. xiii. 16); and let us bring forward the words of the Jews, which they uttered in their madness, saying, "Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil" (c. viii. 48); and, "He casteth out devils by Beelzebub." (Luke xi. 15.) For on this account He bare all these things, in order that we might walk in His footsteps, and endure those mockings which disturb more than any other kind of reproach. Yet nevertheless He not only bare these things, but even used every means to save and deliver from the appointed punishment those who did them. For He sent the Apostles also for their salvation, at least thou hearest them saying, that, "We(8) know that through ignorance ye did it" (Acts iii. 17); and by these means drawing them to repentance. This let us also imitate; for nothing so much maketh God propitious as the loving enemies, and doing good to those who despitefully use us. When a man insults thee, look not to him, but to the devil who moves him, and against him empty all thy wrath, but pity the man who is moved by him. For if lying is from the devil, to be angry without a cause is much more so. When thou seest one turning another into ridicule, consider that it is the devil who moves him, for mockings belong not to Christians. For he who hath been bidden to mourn, and hath heard, "Woe, ye that laugh" (Luke vi. 25), and who after this insults, and jests, and is excited, demands not reproach from us, but sorrow, since Christ also was troubled when He thought on Judas. All these things therefore let us practice in our actions, for if we act not rightly in these, we have come to no purpose and in vain into the world. Or rather we have come to our harm, for faith is not sufficient to bring men to the Kingdom, nay, it even hath power(9) in this way most to condemn those who exhibit an ill life; for He "which knew his Lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes" (Luke xii. 47); and again, "If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin." (c. xv. 22.) What excuse then shall we have, who have been set within the palace, and deemed worthy to stoop(1) down and enter into the sanctuary, and have been made partakers of the releasing Mysteries,(2) and who yet are worse than the Greeks, who have shared in none of these things? For if they for the sake of vainglory have shown so much true wisdom, much more ought we to go after all virtue, because it is pleasing to God. But at present we do not even despise wealth; while they have often been careless of their life, and in wars have given up their children to their madness about devils,(3) and have despised nature for the sake of their devils, but we do not even despise money for the sake of Christ, nor anger on account of God's will, but are inflamed, and in no better state than the fevered. And just as they, when possessed by their malady, are all burning, so we, suffocated as by some fire, can stop at no point of desire, increasing both anger and avarice. On this account I am ashamed and astonished, when I behold among the Greeks men despising riches, but all mad among ourselves. For even if we could find some despising riches, we should find that they have been made(4) captive by other vices, by passion or envy; and a hard thing it is to discover true wisdom without a blemish.(5) But the reason is, that we are not earnest to get our remedies from the Scriptures, nor do we apply ourselves to those Scriptures with compunction, and sorrow, and groaning, but carelessly, if at any time we chance to be at leisure. Therefore when a great rush of worldly matters comes, it overwhelms all; and if there hath been any profit, destroys it. For if a man have a wound, and after putting on a plaster, do not tie it tight, but allow it to fall off, and expose his sore to wet, and dust, and heat, and ten thousand other things able to irritate it, he will get no good; yet not by reason of the inefficacy of the remedies, but by reason of his own carelessness. And this also is wont to happen to us, when we attend but little to the divine oracles, but give ourselves up wholly and incessantly to things of this life; for thus all the seed is choked, and all is made unfruitful. That this may not be the case, let us look carefully a little, let us look up to heaven, let us bend down to the tombs and coffins of the departed. For the same end awaiteth us, and the same necessity of departure will often come upon us before the evening. Prepare we then for this expedition;(9) there is need of many supplies for the journey,(10) for great is the heat there, and great the drought, and great the solitude. Henceforth there is no reposing at an inn, there is no buying anything, when one hath not taken all from hence. Hear at least what the virgins say, "Go ye to them that sell" (Matt. xxv. 9); but they who went found not. Hear what Abraham saith, "A gulf between us and you." (Luke xvi. 26.) Hear what Ezekiel saith concerning that day, that Noah, and Job, and Daniel shall in nowise deliver their sons. (Ezek. xiv. 14.) But may it never come to pass that we hear these words, but that having taken hence sufficient provision for our way to eternal life, we may behold with boldness our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
HOMILY LXXXV: JOHN xix. 16-18.
"Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led Him away. And He, bearing His Cross, went forth into a place called the place of a skull,(6) where they crucified Him."(7)
[1.] SUCCESSES have terrible power to cast down or draw aside those who take not heed. Thus the Jews, who at first enjoyed the influence(8) of God, sought the law of royalty from the Gentiles, and in the wilderness after the manna remembered the onions. In the same way here, refusing the Kingdom of Christ, they invited to themselves that of Caesar. Wherefore God set a king over them, according to their own decision. When then Pilate heard these things, he delivered Him to be crucified. Utterly without reason. For when he ought to have enquired whether Christ had aimed at sovereign power, he pronounced the sentence through fear alone. Yet that this might not befall him, Christ said beforehand, "My kingdom is not of this world"; but he having given himself wholly up to present things, would practice no great amount of wisdom. And yet his wife's dream should have been sufficient to terrify him; but by none of these things was he made better, nor did he look to heaven, but delivered Him up. And now they laid the cross upon Him as a malefactor. For even the wood they abominated, and endured not even to touch it. This was also the case in the type; for Isaac bare the wood. But then the matter stopped at the will of his father,(1) for it was the type; while here it proceeded to action, for it was the reality.
"And He came to the place of a skull." Some say that Adam died there, and there lieth; and that Jesus in this place where death had reigned, there also set up the trophy. For He went forth bearing the Cross as a trophy over the tyranny of death: and as conquerors do, so He bare upon His shoulders the symbol of victory. What matter if the Jews did(2) these things with a different intent. They crucified Him too with thieves, in this also unintentionally fulfilling prophecy; for what they did for insult contributed to the truth, that thou mayest learn how great is its power, since the Prophet had foretold of old, that "He was numbered with the transgressors." (Isa. liii. 12.) The devil therefore wished to cast a veil over what was done, but was unable; for the three were crucified, but Jesus alone was glorious, that thou mayest learn, that His power effected all. Yet the miracles took place when the three had been nailed to the cross; but no one attributed anything of what was done to either of those others, but to Jesus only; so entirely was the plot of the devil rendered vain,(3) and all returned upon his own head. For even of these two, one was saved. He therefore did not insult the glory of the Cross,(4) but contributed to it not a little. For it was not a less matter than shaking the rocks, to change a thief upon the cross, and to bring him unto Paradise.
Ver. 19. "And Pilate wrote a title."(5)
At the same time requiting the Jews, and making a defense for Christ. For since, they had given Him up as worthless, and attempted to confirm this sentence by making Him share the punishment of the robbers, in order that for the future it might be in no maws power to prefer evil charges against him, or to accuse him as a worthless and wicked person, to close moreover their mouths and the mouths of all who might desire to accuse Him, and to show that they had risen up against their own King, Pilate thus placed, as on a trophy, those letters, which utter a clear voice, and show forth His Victory, and proclaim His Kingdom, though not in its completeness. And this he made manifest not in a single tongue, but in three languages; for since it was likely that there would be a mixed multitude among the Jews on account of the Feast, in order that none might be ignorant of the defense, he publicly recorded(6) the madness of the Jews, in all the languages. For they bore malice against Him even when crucified.(7) "Yet what did this harm you?(8) Nothing. For if He was a mortal and weak, and was about to become extinct, why did ye fear the letters asserting that He is the King of the Jews?" And what do they ask? "Say that 'he said.' For now it is an assertion, and a general sentence, but if 'he said' be added, the charge is shown to be one arising from his own rashness and arrogance." Still Pilate was not turned aside, but stood to his first decision. And it is no little thing that is dispensed even from this circumstance, but the whole matter. For since the wood of the cross was buried, because no one was careful to take it up, inasmuch as fear was pressing, and the believers were hurrying to other urgent matters; and since it was in after times to be sought for, and it was likely that the three crosses would lie together, in order that the Lord's might not be unknown, it was made manifest to all, first by its lying in the middle, and then by the title. For those of the thieves had no titles.
[2.] The soldiers parted the garments, but not the coat.(9) See the prophecies in every instance fulfilled by their wickednesses; for this also had been predicted of old; yet there were three crucified, but the matters of the prophecies(10) were fulfilled in Him. For why did they not this in the case of the others, but in His case only? Consider too, I pray you, the exactness of the prophecy. For the Prophet saith not only, that they "parted," but that they" did not part." The rest therefore they divided, the coat they divided not, but committed the matter to a decision by lot. And the, "Woven from the top" (ver. 23) is not put without a purpose; but some say that a figurative assertion is declared by it, that the Crucified was not simply man, but had also the Divinity from above.(11) Others say that the Evangelist describes the very form of the coat.(1) For since in Palestine they put together two strips of cloth and so weave their garments, John, to show that the coat was of this kind, saith, "Woven from the top"; and to me he seems to say this, alluding to the poorness of the garments, and that as in all other things, so in dress also, He followed a simple(2) fashion.
Ver. 24. "These things the soldiers did." But He on the Cross, committeth His mother to the disciple,(3) teaching us even to our last breath to show every care for our parents. When indeed she unseasonably troubled Him, He said, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" (c. ii. 4.) And, "Who is My mother?"(Matt. xii. 48.) But here He showeth much loving affection, and committeth her to the disciple whom He loved. Again John conceals himself, in modesty; for had he desired to boast, he would have also put in the cause for which he was loved, since probably it was some great and wonderful one. But wherefore doth He converse on nothing else with John, nor comfort him when desponding? Because it was no time for comforting by words; besides, it was no little thing for him to be honored with such honor, and to receive the reward of steadfastness. But do thou consider, I pray, how even on the cross He did everything without being troubled, speaking with the disciple concerning His mother, fulfilling prophecies, holding forth good hopes to the thief. Yet before He was crucified He appeareth sweating, agonized, fearing. What then can this mean? Nothing difficult, nothing doubtful. There indeed the weakness of nature had been shown, here was being shown the excess of Power. Besides, by these two things He teacheth us, even if before things terrible we be troubled, not on that account to shrink from things terrible, but when we have embarked in the contest to deem all things(4) possible and easy. Let us then not tremble at death. Our soul hath by nature the love of life, but it lies with us either to loose the bands of nature, and make this desire weak; or else to tighten them, and make the desire more tyrannous. For as we have the desire of sexual intercourse, but when we practice true wisdom we render the desire weak, so also it falls out in the case of life; and as God hath annexed carnal desire to the generation of children, to maintain a succession among us, without however forbidding us from traveling the higher road of continence; so also He hath implanted in us the love of life, forbidding us from destroying ourselves, but not hindering our despising the present life. And it behooves us, knowing this, to observe due measure, and neither to go at any time to death of our own accord, even though ten thousand terrible things possess us; nor yet when dragged to it, for the sake of what is pleasing to God, to shrink back from and fear it, but boldly to strip for it, preferring the future to the present life.
But the women stood by the Cross, and the weaker sex then appeared the manlier(ver. 25); so entirely henceforth were all things transformed.
[3.] And He, having committed His mother to John, said, "Behold thy Son." (Ver. 26.) O the honor! with what honor did He honor the disciple! when He Himself was now departing, He committed her to the disciple to take care of. For since it was likely that, being His mother, she would grieve, and require protection, He with reason entrusted her to the beloved. To him He saith, "Behold thy mother." (Ver. 27.) This He said, knitting them together in charity; which the disciple understanding, took her to his own home. "But why made He no mention of any other woman, although another stood there?" To teach us to pay more than ordinary respect to our mothers. For as when parents oppose us on spiritual matters, we must not even own them, so when they do not hinder us, we ought to pay them all becoming respect, and to prefer them before others, because they begat us, because they bred us up, because they bare for us ten thousand terrible things. And by these words He silenceth the shamelessness of Marcion; for if He were not born according to the flesh, nor had a mother, wherefore taketh He such forethought for her alone?
Ver. 28. "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished."
That is, "that nothing was wanting to the Dispensation." For He was everywhere desirous to show, that this Death was of a new kind, if indeed the whole lay in the power of the Person dying, and death came not on the Body before He willed it; and He willed it after He had fulfilled all things. Therefore also He said, "I have power to lay down My life; and I have power to take it again." (c. x. 18.) Knowing therefore that all things were fulfilled, He saith,
"I thirst." (5)
Here again fulfilling a prophecy. But consider, I pray, the accursed nature of the bystanders. Though we have ten thousand enemies, and have suffered intolerable things at their hands, yet when we see them perishing, we relent; but they did not even so make peace with Him, nor were tamed by what they saw, but rather became more savage, and increased their irony; and having brought to Him vinegar on a sponge,(1) as men bring it to the condemned, thus they gave Him to drink; since it is on this account that the hyssop is added.
Ver. 30. "Having therefore received it, He saith, It is finished."
Seest thou how He doth all things calmly, and with power? And what follows shows this. For when all had been completed,
"He bowed His head, (this had not been nailed,) and gave up(2) the ghost."
That is, "died." Yet to expire does not come(3) after the bowing the head; but here, on the contrary, it doth. For He did not, when He had expired, bow His head, as happens with us, but when He had bent His head, then He expired. By all which things the Evangelist hath shown, that He was Lord of all.
But the Jews, on the other hand, who swallowed the camel and strained at the gnat, having wrought so atrocious a deed, are very precise concerning the day.
Ver. 31. "Because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross(4)-- they besought Pilate that their legs might be broken.''(5)
Seest thou how strong a thing is truth? By means of the very things which are the objects of their zeal, prophecy is fulfilled, for by occasion of those things, this plain prediction, unconnected with them,(6) receives its accomplishment. For the soldiers(7) when they came, brake the legs of the others, but not those of Christ. Yet these to gratify the Jews pierced His side with a spear, and now insulted the dead body. O abominable and accursed purpose! Yet, beloved, be not thou confounded, be not thou desponding; for the things which these men did from a wicked will, fought on the side of the truth. Since there was a prophecy, saying, (from this circumstance,(8) "They shall look on Him whom they pierced." (Ver. 37; Zech. xii. 10.) And not this only, but the deed then dared was a demonstration of the faith, to those who should afterwards disbelieve; as to Thomas, and those like him. With this too an ineffable mystery was accomplished. For "there came forth water and blood." Not without a purpose, or by chance, did those founts come forth, but because by means of these two together the Church consisteth.(9) And the initiated know it, being by water indeed regenerate, and nourished by the Blood and the Flesh. Hence the Mysteries take their beginning; that(10) when thou approachest to that awful cup, thou mayest so approach, as drinking from the very side.
Ver. 35. "And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true."(11)
That is, "I heard it not from others, but was myself present and saw it, and the testimony is true." As may be supposed. For he relates an insult done; he relates not anything great and admirable, that thou shouldest suspect his narrative; but securing the mouths of heretics, and loudly proclaiming beforehand the Mysteries that should be, and beholding the treasure laid up in them, he is very exact concerning what took place. And that prophecy also is fulfilled,
Vet. 36. "A bone of Him shall not be broken."(12) (Ex. xii. 46; Num. ix. 12.)
For even if this was said with reference to the lamb of the Jews, still it was for the sake of the reality that the type preceded, and in Him the prophecy was more fully accomplished. On this account the Evangelist brought forward the Prophet. For since by continually producing himself as witness he would have seemed unworthy of credit, he brings Moses to help him, and saith, that neither did this come to pass without a purpose, but was written before of old. And this is the meaning of the words, "A bone of Him shall not be broken." Again he confirms the Prophet's words by his own witness. "These things," saith he, "I have told you, that ye might learn that great is the connection of the type with the reality." Seest thou what pains he takes to make that believed which seemed to be matter of reproach, and bringing shame? For that the soldier should insult even the dead body, was far worse than being crucified. "But still, even these things," he saith, "I have told, and told with much earnestness, 'that ye might believe.' (Ver. 35.) Let none then be unbelieving, nor through shame injure our cause. For the things which appear to be most shameful, are the very venerable records(13) of our good things."
Ver. 38. "After this came Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple."(14)
Not one of the twelve, but perhaps one of the seventy. For now deeming that the anger of the Jews was quenched by the Cross, they approached without fear, and took charge of His funeral. Joseph therefore came and asked the favor from Pilate, which he granted; why should he not? Nicodemus also assists him, and furnishes a costly burial. For they were still disposed to think of Him as a mere man. And they brought those(1) spices whose especial nature is to preserve the body for a long time, and not to allow it quickly to yield to corruption, which was an act of men imagining nothing great respecting Him; but anyhow, they exhibited very loving affection. But how did no one of the twelve come, neither John, nor Peter, nor any other of the more distinguished disciples? Nor doth the writer conceal this point. If any one say that it was from fear of the Jews, these men also(2) were occupied by the same fear; for Joseph too was, it saith, "A secret (disciple) for fear of the Jews." And not one can say that Joseph acted thus because he greatly despised them,(3) but though himself afraid, still he came. But John who was present, and had seen Him expire, did nothing of the kind. It seems to me that Joseph was a man of high rank, (as is clear from the funeral,) and known(4) to Pilate, on which account also he obtained the favor; and then he buried Him, not as a criminal, but magnificently, after the Jewish fashion, as some great and admirable one.
[4.] And because they were straitened by the time, (since the Death took place at the ninth hour, and it is probable, that what with going to Pilate and what with taking down the body, evening would come upon them when it was not lawful to work,) they laid Him in the tomb that was near.(5) And it is providentially ordered,(6) that He should be placed in a new tomb, wherein no one had been placed before, that His Resurrection might not be deemed to be that of some other who lay there with Him; and that the disciples might be able easily to come and be spectators of what came to pass, because the place was near; and that not they alone should be witnesses of His burial, but His enemies also, for the placing seals on the tomb, and the sitting by of the soldiers to watch it, were the actions of men testifying to the burial. 'For Christ earnestly desired that this should be confessed, no less than the Resurrection. Wherefore also the disciples are very earnest about. this, the showing that lie died. For the Resurrection all succeeding time would confirm, but the Death, if at that time it had been partially concealed, or not made very manifest, was likely to harm the account of the Resurrection. Nor was it for these reasons only that He was laid near, but also that the story about the stealing might be proved false.
"The first day of the week" (that is, the Lord's day) "cometh Mary Magdalene, very early in the morning,(7) and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher." (Ch. xx. ver. 1.)
For He arose while both stone and seals lay over Him; but because it was necessary that others should be fully satisfied, the tomb was opened after the Resurrection, and thus what had come to pass was confirmed. This then was what moved Mary. For being entirely full of loving affection towards her Master, when the Sabbath was past, she could not bear to rest, but came very early in the morning, desiring to find some consolation from the place. But when she saw the place, and the stone(8) taken away, she neither entered in nor stooped down, but ran to the disciples,(9) in the greatness of her longing; for this was what she earnestly desired, she wished very speedily to learn what had become of the body. This was the meaning of her running, and her words declare it.
Ver. 2. "They have taken away," she saith, "my Lord,(10) and I know not where they have laid Him."
Seest thou how she knew not as yet anything clearly concerning the Resurrection, but thought there had been a removal of the body, and tells all simply to the disciples? And the Evangelist hath not deprived the woman of such a praise, nor thought it shame that they should have learnt these things first from her who had passed the night in watching. Thus everywhere doth the truth-loving nature of his disposition shine forth. When then she came and said these things, they hearing them, draw near with great eagerness to the sepulcher,(11) and see the linen clothes lying, which was a sign of the Resurrection. For neither, if any persons had removed the body, would they before doing so have stripped it; nor if any had stolen it, would they have taken the trouble to remove the napkin, and roll it up, and lay it in a place by itself; but how? they would have taken the body as it was. On this account John tells us by anticipation that it was buried with much myrrh, which glues linen to the body not less firmly than lead; in order that when thou hearest that the napkins lay apart, thou mayest not endure those who say that He was stolen. For a thief would not have been so foolish as to spend so much trouble on a superfluous matter. For why should he undo the clothes? and how could he have escaped detection if he had done so? since he would probably have spent much time in so doing, and be found out by delaying and loitering. But why do the clothes lie apart, while the napkin was wrapped together by itself? That thou mayest learn that it was not the action of men in confusion or haste, the placing some in one place, some in another, and the wrapping them together. From this they believed in the Resurrection. On this account Christ afterwards appeared to them, when they were convinced by what they had seen. Observe too here again the absence of boastfulness in the Evangelist, how he witnesses to the exactness of Peter's search. For he himself having gotten before Peter, and having seen the linen clothes, enquired not farther, but withdrew; but that fervent one passing farther in, looked at everything carefully, and saw somewhat more, and then the other too was summoned to the sight.(1) For he entering after Peter, saw the grave-clothes lying, and separate. Now to separate, and to place one thing by itself, and another, after rolling it up, by itself, was the act of some one doing things carefully, and not in a chance way, as if disturbed.
[5.] But do thou, when thou hearest that thy Lord arose naked, cease from thy madness about funerals; for what is the meaning of that superfluous and unprofitable(2) expense, which brings much loss to the mourners, and no gain to the departed, or (if we must say that it brings anything) rather harm? For the costliness of burial hath often caused the breaking open of tombs, and hath caused him to be cast out naked and unburied, who had been buried with much care. But alas for vainglory! How great the tyranny which it exhibits even in sorrow! how great the folly! Many, that this may not happen, having cut in pieces those fine clothes, and filled them with many spices, so that they may be doubly useless to those who would insult the dead, then commit them to the earth. Are not these the acts of madmen? of men beside themselves? to make a show of their ambition, and then to destroy it? "Yea," saith some one, "it is in order that they may lie safely with the dead that we use all these contrivances." Well then, if the robbers do not get them, will not the moths get them, and the worms? Or if the moths and worms get them not, will not time and the moisture of putrefaction(3) destroy them? But let us suppose that neither tomb- breakers, nor moths, nor worms, nor time, nor anything else, destroy what lies in the tomb, but that the body itself remains untouched until the Resurrection, and these things are preserved new and fresh and fine; what advantage is there from this to the departed, when the body is raised naked, while these remain here, and profit us nothing for those accounts which must be given? "Wherefore then," saith some one, "was it done in the case of Christ" First of all, do not compare these with human matters, since the harlot poured even ointment upon His holy feet. But if we must speak on these things, we say, that they were done when the doers knew not the word of the Resurrection; therefore it saith, "As was the manner of the Jews." For they who honored Christ(4) were not of the twelve, but were those who did not honor Him greatly. The twelve honored Him not in this way, but by death and massacre and dangers for His sake. That other indeed was honor, but far inferior to this of which I have spoken. Besides, as I began by saying, we are now speaking of men, but at that time these things were done with relation to the Lord. And that thou mayest learn that Christ made no account of these things, He said, "Ye saw Me an hungered, and ye fed Me; thirsty, and ye gave Me drink; naked, and ye clothed Me" (Matt. xxv. 35); but nowhere did He say, "dead, and ye buried Me." And this I say not as taking away the custom of burial, (that be far from me,) but as cutting short its extravagance and unseasonable vanity. "But," saith some one, "feeling and grief and sympathy for the departed persuade to this practice." The practice doth not proceed from sympathy for the departed, but from vainglory. Since if thou desirest to sympathize with the dead, I will show thee another way of mourning, and will teach thee to put on him garments which shall rise again with him, and make him glorious. For these garments are not consumed by worms, nor wasted by time, nor stolen by tomb- breakers. Of what sort then are these? The clothing of alms-doing; for this is a robe that shall rise again with him, because the seal of alms-doing is with him. With these garments shine they who then hear, "Hungering ye fed Me." These make men distinguished, these make them glorious, these place them in safety; but those used now are only something for moths to consume, and a table for worms. And this I say, not forbidding to use funeral observance, but bidding you to do it with moderation, so as to cover the body, and not commit it naked to the earth. For if living He biddeth us have no more than enough to cover us, much more when dead; since the dead body(1) hath not so much need of garments as when it is living and breathing. For when alive, on account of the cold, and for decency's sake, we need the covering of garments, but when dead we require grave- clothes for none of these reasons, but that the body may not lie naked; and better than grave-clothes we have the earth, fairest of coverings, and more suited for the nature of such bodies as ours. If then where there are so many needs we must not search for anything superfluous, much more where there is no such necessity, is the ostentation unseasonable.
[6.] "But the lookers-on will laugh," saith some one. Most certainly if there be any laughter, we need not care much for one so exceedingly foolish; but at present there are many who rather admire and accept our true wisdom. For these are not the things which deserve laughter, but those which we do at present, weeping, and wailing, and burying ourselves with the departed; these things deserve ridicule and punishment. But to show true wisdom, both in these respects and in the modesty of the attire used, prepares crowns and praises for us, and all will applaud us, and will admire the power of Christ, and will say, "Amazing! How great is the power of the Crucified One! He hath persuaded those who are perishing and wasting, that death is not death; they therefore do not act as perishing men, but as men who send the dead before them to a distant and better dwelling-place. He hath persuaded them that this corruptible and earthy body shall put on a garment more glorious than silk or cloth of gold, the garment of immortality; therefore they are not very anxious about their burial, but deem a virtuous life to be an admirable winding-sheet." These things they will say, if they see us showing true wisdom; but if they behold us bent down with grief, playing the woman, placing around troops of female mourners, they will laugh, and mock, and find fault in ten thousand ways, pulling to pieces our foolish expense, our vain labor. With these things we hear all finding fault; and very reasonably. For what excuse can we have, when we adorn a body, which is consumed by(2) corruption and worms, and neglect Christ when thirsting, going about naked, and a stranger? Cease we then from this vain trouble. Let us perform the obsequies of the departed, as is good both for us and them, to the glory of God: let us do much alms for their sake, let us send with them the best provision for the way. For if the memory of admirable men, though dead, hath protected the living, (for, "I will defend," it saith, "this city for Mine Own. sake, and for My servant David's sake "--2 Kings xix. 34,) much more will alms-doing effect this; for this hath raised even the dead, as when the widows stood round(3) showing what things Dorcas had made, while she was with them. (Acts ix. 39.) When therefore one is about to die, let the friend of that dying person prepare the obsequies,(4) and persuade(5) the departing one to leave somewhat to the needy. With these garments let him send him to the grave, leaving(6) Christ his heir. For if they who write kings among their heirs, leave a safe portion to their relations,(7) when one leaves Christ heir with his children, consider how great good he will draw down upon himself and all his. These are the right(8) sort of funerals, these profit both those who remain and those who depart. If we be so buried, we shall be glorious at the Resurrection-time. But if caring for the body we neglect the soul, we then shall suffer many terrible things, and incur much ridicule. For neither is it a common unseemliness to depart without being clothed with virtue, nor is the body, though cast out without a tomb, so disgraced, as a soul appearing bare of virtue in that day. This let us put on, this let us wrap around us; it is best to do so during all our lifetime; but if we have in this life been negligent, let us at least in our end be sober, and charge our relations to help us when we depart by alms-doing; that being thus assisted by each other, we may attain(9) to much confidence, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever and world without end. Amen.
HOMILY LXXXVI: JOHN XX. 10, 11.
"Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. But Mary stood without at the sepulcher, weeping."
[1.] FULL of feeling somehow is the female sex, and more(1) inclined to pity. I say this, lest thou shouldest wonder how it could be that Mary wept bitterly at the tomb, while Peter was in no way so affected. For, "The disciples," it saith, "went away unto their own home"; but she stood shedding tears. Because hers was a feeble nature, and she as yet knew not accurately the account of the Resurrection; whereas they having seen the linen clothes and believed, departed to their own homes in astonishment. And wherefore went they not straightway to Galilee, as had been commanded them before the Passion? They waited for the others, perhaps, and besides they were yet at the height of their amazement. These then went their way: but she stood at the place, for, as I have said, even the sight of the tomb tended greatly to comfort her. At any rate, thou seest her, the more to ease her grief, stooping down,(2) and desiring to behold the place where the body lay. And therefore she received no small reward for this her great zeal. For what the disciples saw not, this saw the woman first, Angels(3) sitting, the one at the feet, the other at the head, in white; even the dress(4) was full of much radiance(5) and joy. Since the mind of the woman was not sufficiently elevated to accept the Resurrection from the proof of the napkins, something more takes place, she beholdeth something more; Angels sitting in shining garments, so as to raise her thus awhile from her passionate sorrow, and to comfort her. But they said nothing to her concerning the Resurrection, yet is she gently led forward in this doctrine. She saw countenances bright and unusual; she saw shining garments, she heard a sympathizing voice. For what saith (the Angel)?
Ver. 13. "Woman, why weepest thou?"
By all these circumstances, as though a door was being opened for her, she was led by little and little to the knowledge of the Resurrection. And the manner of their sitting invited her to question them, for they showed that they knew what had taken place; on which account they did not sit together either, but apart from one another. For because it was not likely that she would dare at once to question them, both by questioning her, and by the manner of their sitting, they bring her to converse. What then saith she? She speaks very warmly and affectionately;
"They(6) have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him."
"What sayest thou? Knowest thou not yet anything concerning the Resurrection, but dost thou still form fancies about His being laid 7?" Seest thou how she had not yet received the sublime doctrine?
Ver. 14. "And when she had thus said, she turned herself back."(8)
And by what kind of consequence is it, that she having spoken to them, and not having yet heard anything from them, turned back? Me-thinks that while she was speaking, Christ suddenly appearing behind her, struck the Angels with awe; and that they having beheld their Ruler,(9) showed immediately by their bearing, their look, their movements, that they saw the Lord;(10) and this drew the woman's attention, and caused her to turn herself backwards. To them then He appeared on this wise, but not so to the woman, in order not at the first sight to terrify her, but in a meaner and ordinary form, as is clear from her supposing that He was the gardener. It was meet to lead one of so lowly a mind to high matters, not all at once, but gently. He therefore in turn asketh her,
Ver. 15. "Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?"
This showed that He knew what she wished to ask, and led her to make answer. And the woman, understanding this, doth not again mention the name of Jesus, but as though her questioner knew the subject of her enquiry replies,
"Sir,(11) if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."
Again she speaks of laying down, and taking away, and carrying, as though speaking of a corpse. But her meaning is this; "If ye have borne him hence for fear of the Jews, tell me, and I will take him." Great is the kindness and loving affection of the woman, but as yet there is nothing lofty with her.(1) Wherefore He now setteth the matter before her, not by appearance, but by Voice. For as He was at one time known to the Jews, and at another time unperceived(2) though present; so too in speaking, He, when He chose, then made Himself known; as also when He said to the Jews, "Whom seek ye?" they knew neither the Countenance nor the Voice until He chose. And this was the case here. And He named her name only,(3) reproaching and blaming her that she entertained such fancies concerning One who lived. But how was it that,
Ver. 16. "She turned herself, and saith,"(4) if so be that He was speaking to her? It seems to me, that after having said, "Where have ye laid him?" she turned to the Angels to ask why they were astonished, and that then Christ, by calling her by name, turned her to Himself from them, and revealed Himself by His Voice; for when He called her "Mary," then she knew Him; so that the recognition was not by His appearance, but by His Voice. And if any say, "Whence is it clear that the Angels were awestruck, and that on this account the woman turned herself," they will in this place say, "whence is it clear that she would have touched Him, and fallen at His feet?" Now as this is clear from His saying, "Touch Me not," so is the other clear from its saying, that she turned herself. But wherefore, said He,
Ver. 17. "Touch Me not"?
[5.] Some assert, that she asked for spiritual grace, because she had heard Him when with the disciples say, "If I go to the Father, 'I will ask Him, and He shall give you another Comforter.'" (c. xiv. 3, 16.) But how could she who was not present with the disciples have heard this? Besides, such an imagination is far from the meaning here. And how should she ask, when He had not yet gone to the Father? What then is the sense? Methinks that she wished still to converse with Him as before, and that in her joy she perceived nothing great in Him, although He had become far more excellent in the Flesh. To lead her therefore from this idea, and that she might speak to Him with much awe, (for neither with the disciples doth He henceforth appear so familiar as before,) He raiseth her thoughts, that she should give more reverent heed to Him. To have said, "Approach Me not as ye did before, for matters are not in the same state, nor shall I henceforth be with you in the same way," would have been harsh and high- sounding; but the saying,
"I am not yet ascended to the(5) Father," though not painful to hear, was the saying of One declaring the same thing. For by saying, "I am not yet ascended," He showeth that He hasteth and presseth thither; and that it was not meet that One about to depart thither, and no longer to converse with men, should be looked on with the same feelings as before. And the sequel shows that this is the case.
"Go and say unto the brethren, that I go(6) unto My Father, and your Father, unto My God and your God."
Yet He was not about to do so immediately, but after forty days. How then saith He this? With a desire to raise their minds, and to persuade them that He departeth into the heavens. But the, "To My Father and your Father, to My God, and your God," belongs to the Dispensation,(7) since the "ascending" also belongs to His Flesh. For He speaketh these words to one who had no high thoughts. "Is then the Father His in one way, and ours in another?" Assuredly then He is. For if He is God of the righteous in a manner different from that in which He is God of other men, much more in the case of the Son and us. For because He had said, "Say to the brethren," in order that they might not imagine any equality from this, He showed the difference. He was about to sit on His Father's throne, but they to stand by.(8) So that albeit in His Subsistence according to the Flesh He became our Brother, yet in Honor He greatly differed from(9) us, it cannot even be told how much.
Vet. 18. "She therefore departeth, beating these tidings to the disciples."(10)
So great a good is perseverance and endurance. But how was it that they did not any more grieve when He was about to depart, nor speak as they had done before? At that time they were affected in such a way, as supposing that He was about to die; but now that He was risen again, what reason had they to grieve? Moreover, Mary reported His appearance and His words, which were enough to comfort them. Since then it was likely that the disciples on hearing these things would either not believe the woman, or, believing, would grieve that He had not deemed them worthy of the vision, though He promised to meet them in Galilee; in order that they might not by dwelling on this be unsettled,(11) He let not a single day pass, but having brought them to a state of longing, by their knowledge that He was risen, and by what they heard from the woman, when they were thirsting to see Him, and were greatly afraid, (which thing itself especially made their yearning greater,) He then, when it was evening, presented(1) Himself before them, and that very marvelously.(2) And why did He appear in the "evening"? Because it was probable that they would then especially be very fearful. But the marvel was, why they did not suppose Him to be an apparition; for He entered, "when the doors were shut," and suddenly. The chief cause was, that the woman beforehand had wrought great faith in them; besides, He showed His countenance to them dear and mild. He came not by day, in order that all might be collected together. For great was the amazement; for neither did He knock at the door but all at once stood in the midst, and showed His side and His hands.(3) At the same time also by His Voice He smoothed their tossing thought, by saying,
Ver. 19. "Peace be unto you."
That is, "Be not troubled"; at the same time reminding them of the word which He spake to them before the Crucifixion, "My peace I leave(4) unto you" (c. xiv. 27); and again, "In me ye have(5) peace, but" "in the world ye shall have tribulation." (c. xvi. 33.)
Ver. 20. "Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord."
Seest thou the words issuing in deeds? For what He said before the Crucifixion, that "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you" (c. xvi. 22), this He now(6) accomplished in deed; but all these things led them to a most exact faith. For since they had a truceless war with the Jews, He continually repeated the, "Peace be unto you,"(7) giving them, to counterbalance the war, the consolation. And so this was the first word that He spake to them after the Resurrection, (wherefore also Paul continually saith, "Grace be unto you and peace,") and to women He giveth good tidings of joy,(8) because that sex was in sorrow, and had received this as the first curse. Therefore He giveth good tidings suitable respectively, to men, peace, because of their war; joy to women, because of their sorrow. Then having put away all painful things, He telleth of the successes(9) of the Cross, and these were the "peace." "Since then all hindrances have been removed," He saith, "and I have made My(10) victory glorious, and all hath been achieved," (then He saith afterwards,)
Ver. 21. "As My Father hath sent Me, so send I you."
"Ye have no difficulty, owing to what hath already come to pass, and to the dignity of Me who send you." Here He lifteth up their souls, and showeth them their great cause of confidence, if so be that they were about to undertake His work. And no longer is an appeal made to the Father, but with authority He giveth to them the power. For,
Ver. 22, 23. "He breathed on them, and said,(11) Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained."
As a king sending forth governors, gives power to east(12) into prison and to deliver from it, so in sending these forth, Christ investeth them with the same power. But how saith He, "If I go not away, He(13) will not come" (c. xvi. 7), and yet giveth them the Spirit? Some say that He gave not the Spirit, but rendered them fit to receive It, by breathing on them. For if Daniel when he saw an Angel was afraid, what would not they have suffered when they received that unspeakable Gift, unless He had first made them learners? Wherefore He said not, "Ye have received the Holy Ghost," but, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Yet one will not be wrong in asserting that they then also received some spiritual power and grace; not so as to raise the dead, or to work miracles, but so as to remit sins. For the gifts of the Spirit are of different kinds; wherefore He added, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them," showing what kind of power He was giving. But in the other case,(14) after forty(15) days, they received the power of working miracles. Wherefore He saith, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come(16) upon you, and ye shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea." (Acts i. 8.) And witnesses they became by means of miracles, for unspeakable is the grace of the Spirit and multiform the gift. But this comes to pass, that thou mayest learn that the gift and the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, is One. For things which appear to be peculiar to the Father, these are seen also to belong to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. "How then," saith some one, "doth none come to the Son, 'except the Father draw him'?" (c. vi. 44.) Why, this very thing is shown to belong to the Son also. "I," He saith, "am the Way: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me." (c. xiv. 6.) And observe that it belongeth to the Spirit also; for "No man can call Jesus Christ Lord,(1) but by the Holy Ghost." (1 Cor. xii. 3.) Again, we see that the Apostles were given to the Church at one time by the Father, at another by the Son, at another by the Holy Ghost, and that the "diversities of gifts" (1 Cor. xii. 4) belong to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
[4.] Let us then do all we can to have the Holy Spirit with ourselves, and let us treat with much honor those into whose hands its operation hath been committed. For great is the dignity of the priests. "Whosesoever sins," it saith, "ye remit, they are remitted unto them"; wherefore also Paul saith, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves." (Heb. xiii. 17.) And hold them very exceedingly in honor; for thou indeed carest about thine own affairs, and if thou orderest them well, thou givest(2) no account for others, but the priest even if he rightly order his own life, if he have not an anxious care for thine, yea and that of all those around him, will depart with the wicked into hell; and often when not betrayed by his own conduct, he perishes by yours, if he have not rightly performed all his part. Knowing therefore the greatness of the danger, give them a large share of your goodwill; which Paul also implied when he said, "For they watch for your souls," and not simply so, but, "as they that shall give account." (Heb. xiii. 17.) They ought therefore to receive great attention from you; but if you join with the rest in trampling upon them, then neither shall your affairs be in a good condition. For while the steersman continues in good courage, the crew also will be in safety; but if he be tired out by their reviling him and showing ill-will against him, he cannot watch equally well, or retain his skill, and without intending it, throws them into ten thousand mischiefs. And so too the priest, if he enjoy honor(3) from you, will be able well to order your affairs; but if ye throw them into despondency, ye weaken their hands, and render them, as well as yourselves, an easy prey to the waves, although they be very courageous. Consider what Christ saith concerning the Jews. "The Scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid(4) you to do, do ye." (Matt. xxiii. 2, 3.) Now we have not to say, "the priests sit on Moses' seat," but "on that of Christ"; for they have successively received His doctrine. Wherefore also Paul saith, "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us." (2 Cor. v. 20.) See ye not that in the case of Gentile rulers, all bow to them, and oftentimes even persons superior in family, in life, in intelligence, to those who judge them? yet still because of him who hath given them, they consider none of these things, but respect the decision of their governor, whosoever he be that receives the rule over them. Is there then such fear when man appoints, but when God appointeth do we despise him who is appointed, and abuse him, and besmirch him with ten thousand reproaches, and though forbidden to judge our brethren, do we sharpen our tongue against our priests? And how can this deserve excuse, when we see not the beam in our own eye, but are bitterly over-curious about the mote in another's? Knowest thou not that by so judging thou makest thine own judgment the harder? And this I say not as approving of those who exercise their priesthood unworthily, but as greatly pitying and weeping for them; yet do I not on this account allow that it is right that they should be judged by those over whom they are set.(5) And although their life be very much spoken against, thou, if thou take heed to thyself, wilt not be harmed at all(6) in respect of the things committed to them(7) by God. For if He caused a voice to be uttered by an ass, and bestowed spiritual blessings by a diviner, working by the foolish mouth and impure tongue of Balsam, in behalf of the offending Jews, much more for the sake of you the right- minded(8) will He, though the priests be exceedingly vile, work all the things that are His, and will send the Holy Ghost. For neither doth the pure draw down that Spirit by his own purity, but it is grace that worketh all. "For all," it saith, "is for your sake,(9) whether it be Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas." (1 Cor. iii. 25, 23.) For the things which are placed in the hands of the priest it is with God alone to give; and however far human wisdom may reach, it will appear inferior to that grace. And this I say, not in order that we may order our own life carelessly, but that when some of those set over you are careless livers, you the ruled may not often heap up evil for yourselves. But why speak I of priests? Neither Angel nor Archangel can do anything with regard to what is given from God; but the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, dispenseth all, while the priest lends his tongue and affords his hand. For neither would it be just that through the wickedness of another, those who come in faith to the symbols of their salvation should be harmed. Knowing all these things, let us fear God, and hold His priests in honor, paying them all reverence; that both for our own good deeds, and the attention shown to them, we may receive a great return from God, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
HOMILY LXXXVII: JOHN xx. 24, 25.
"But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said, Except I shall see in His hands(1)--I will not believe."
[1.] As to believe carelessly and in a random way, comes of an over- easy temper; so to be beyond measure curious and meddlesome, marks a most gross understanding. On this account Thomas is held to blame. For he believed not the Apostles when they said, "We have seen the Lord"; not so much mistrusting them, as deeming the thing to be impossible, that is to say, the resurrection from the dead. Since he saith not, "I do not believe you," but, "Except I put my hand--I do not(2) believe." But how was it, that when all were collected together, he alone was absent? Probably after the dispersion which had lately taken place, he had not returned even then. But do thou, when thou seest the unbelief of the disciple, consider the lovingkindness of the Lord, how for the sake of a single soul He showed Himself with His wounds, and cometh in order to save even the one, though he was grosser than the rest; on which account indeed he sought proof from the grossest of the senses, and would not even trust his eyes. For he said not, "Except I see," but, "Except I handle," he saith, lest what he saw might somehow be an apparition. Yet the disciples who told him these things, were at the time worthy of credit, and so was He that promised; yet, since he desired more, Christ did not deprive him even of this.
And why doth He not appear to him straightway, instead of" after eight days"?(3) (Ver. 26.) In order that being in the mean time continually instructed by the disciples, and hearing the same thing, he might be inflamed to more eager desire, and be more ready to believe for the future. But whence knew he that His side had been
opened? From having heard it from the disciples. How then did he believe partly, and partly not believe? Because this thing was very strange and wonderful. But observe, I pray you, the truthfulness of the disciples, how they hide no faults, either their own or others', but record them with great veracity.
Jesus again presenteth himself to them, and waiteth not to be requested by Thomas, nor to hear any such thing, but before he had spoken, Himself prevented him, and fulfilled his desire; showing that even when he spake those words to the disciples, He was present. For He used the same words, and in a manner conveying a sharp rebuke, and instruction for the future. For having said,
Ver. 26. "Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side"; He added,
"And be not faithless, but believing."
Seest thou that his doubt proceeded from unbelief? But it was before he had received the Spirit; after that, it was no longer so, but, for the future, they were perfected.
And not in this way only did Jesus rebuke him, but also by what follows; for when he, being fully satisfied, breathed again, and cried aloud,
Ver. 28. "My Lord, and my God," He saith,
Ver. 29. "Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."
For this is of faith, to receive things not seen; since," Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb. xi. 1.) And here He pronounceth blessed not the disciples only, but those also who after them should believe. "Yet," saith some one, "the disciples saw and believed." Yes, but they sought nothing of the kind, but from the proof of the napkins, they straightway received the word concerning the Resurrection, and before they saw the body, exhibited all faith. When therefore any one in the present day say, "I would that I had lived in those times, and had seen Christ working miracles," let them reflect, that, "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."
It is worth enquiring, how an incorruptible body showed the prints of the nails, and was tangible by a mortal hand. But be not thou disturbed; what took place was a matter of condescension. For that which was so subtle and light as to enter in when the doors were shut, was free from all density(1); but this marvel was shown, that the Resurrection might be believed, and that men might know that it was the Crucified One Himself, and that another rose not in His stead. On this account He arose(2) bearing the signs of the Cross, and on this account He eateth. At least the Apostles everywhere made this a sign of the Resurrection, saying, "We, who did eat and drink with Him." (Acts x. 41.) As therefore when we see Him walking on the waves before the Crucifixion, we do not say, that that body is of a different nature, but of our own; so after the Resurrection, when we see Him with the prints of the nails, we will no more say, that he is therefore(3) corruptible. For He exhibited these appearances on account of the disciple.
Ver. 30. "And many other signs truly did Jesus."
[2.] Since this Evangelist hath mentioned fewer than the others, he tells us that neither have all the others mentioned them all, but as many as were sufficient to draw the hearers to belief. For, "If," it saith, "they should be written every' one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books." (c. xxi. 25.) Whence it is clear, that What they have mentioned they wrote not for display, but only for the sake of what was useful. For how could they who omitted the greater part, write these others(4) for display? But why went they not through them all? Chiefly on account of their number; besides, they also considered, that he who believed not those they had mentioned, would not give heed to a greater number; while he who received these, would have no need of another in order to believe. And here too he seems to me to be for the time speaking of the miracles after the Resurrection. Wherefore He saith,
"In the presence of His disciples."(5)
For as before the Resurrection it was necessary that many should be done, in order that they might believe that He was the Son of God, so was it also after the Resurrection, in order that they might admit that He had arisen. For another reason also he has added, "In the presence of His disciples," because He conversed with them alone after the Resurrection; wherefore also He said, "The world seeth Me no
more." (c. xiv. 19.) Then, in order that thou mayest understand that what was done was done only for the sake of the disciples, he added,
Ver. 31. "That believing ye might have life in His Name."(6)
Speaking generally to mankind, and showing that not on Him who is believed on, but on ourselves, he bestows a very great favor. "In His Name," that is, "through Him"; for He is the Life.
Chap. xxi. vet. 1. "After these things, Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberins."(7)
Seest thou that He remaineth not with them continually, nor as before? He appeared, for instance, in the evening, and flew away; then after eight days again once, and again flew away; then after these things by the sea, and again with great terror. But what is the, "showed"? From this it is clear that He was not seen unless He condescended, because His body was henceforth incorruptible, and of unmixed purity.(8) But wherefore hath the writer mentioned the place? To show that he had now taken away the greater part of their fear, so that they now ventured forth from their dwelling, and went about everywhere. For they were no longer shut up at home, but had gone into Galilee, avoiding the danger from the Jews. Simon, therefore, comes to fish. For since neither was He with them continually, nor was the Spirit yet given, nor they at that time yet entrusted with anything, having nothing to do, they went after their trade.
Ver. 2. "There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas,(9) and Nathanael,"(10) (he that was called by Philip,) "and the sons of Zebedee, and two others."(11)
Having then nothing to do, they went to their fishing,(12) and this same they did by night, because they were greatly afraid. This Luke also mentions;(13) but this is not the same occasion, but a different one. And the other disciples followed, because they were henceforth bound to one another, and at the same time desired to see the fishing, and to bestow(14) their leisure well. As they then were laboring and wearied, Jesus presenteth Himself before them, and doth not at once reveal Himself, so that they enter into converse with Him. He therefore saith to them,
Ver. 5. "Have ye(15) any meat(16)?"
For a time He speaketh rather after a human manner, as if about to buy somewhat of them. But when they made signs that they had none, He bade them cast their nets to the right; and on casting they obtained a haul.(1) But when they recognized Him, the disciples Peter and John again exhibited the peculiarities of their several tempers. The one was more fervent, the other more lofty; the one more keen, the other more clear- sighted. On this account John first recognized Jesus, Peter first came to Him.(2) For no ordinary signs were they which had taken place. What were they? First, that so many fish were caught; then, that the net did not break;(3) then, that before they landed, the coals had been found, and fish laid thereon, and bread.(4) For He no longer made things out of matter already subsisting, as, through a certain dispensation, He did before the Crucifixion. When therefore Peter knew Him, he threw down all, both fish and nets, and girded himself. Seest thou his respect and love? Yet they were only two hundred cubits off; but not even so could Peter wait to go to Him in the boat, but reached the shore by swimming. What then doth Jesus?
Ver. 12. "Come," He saith, "dine." "And none of them durst ask Him."(5)
For they no longer had the same boldness, nor were they so confident, nor did they now approach Him with speech, but with silence and great fear and reverence, sat down giving heed to Him.
"For they knew that(6) it was the Lord."
And therefore they did not ask Him, "Who art Thou?" But seeing that His form was altered, and full of much awfulness, they were greatly amazed, and desired to ask somewhat concerning it; but fear, and their knowledge that He was not some other, but the Same, checked the enquiry, and they only ate what He created for them(7) with a greater exertion of power than before. For here He no more looketh to heaven, nor performeth those human acts, showing that those also which He did were done by way of condescension. And to show that He remained not with them continually, nor in like manner as before, It saith that,
Ver. 14. "This was the third time that Jesus appeared to them,(8) after that He arose from the dead."
And He biddeth them "to bring of the fish," to show that what they saw was no appearance. But here indeed it saith not that He ate with them, but Luke, in another place, saith that He did; for "He was eating together with them."(9) (Acts i. 4.) But the, "how," it is not ours to say; for these things came to pass in too strange a manner, not as though His nature now needed food, but from an act of condescension, in proof of the Resurrection.
[3.] Perhaps when ye heard these things, ye glowed, and called those happy who were then with Him, and those who shall be with Him at the day of the general Resurrection. Let us then use every exertion that we may see that admirable Face. For if when now we hear we so burn, and desire to have been in those days which He spent upon earth, and to have heard His Voice, and seen His face, and to have approached, and touched, and ministered unto Him; consider how great a thing it is to see Him no longer in a mortal body, nor doing human actions, but with a body guard of Angels, being ourselves also in a form of unmixed purity, and beholding Him, and enjoying the rest of that bliss which passes all language. Wherefore, I entreat, let us use every means, so as not to miss such glory. For nothing is difficult if we be willing, nothing burdensome if we give heed. "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him." (2 Tim. ii. 12.) What then is, "If we endure"? If we bear tribulations, if persecutions, if we walk in the strait way. For the strait way is by its nature laborious, but by our will it is rendered light, from the hope of things to come. "For our present light affliction worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at those which are not seen." (5 Cor. iv. 17, 18.) Let us then transfer our eyes to heaven, and continually imagine "those" things, and behold them. For if we always spend our time. with them, we shall not be moved to desire the pleasures of this world, nor find it hard to bear its sorrows; but we shall laugh at these and the like, and nothing will be able to enslave or lift us up, if only we direct our longing thither,(10) and look to that love.(11) And why say I that we shall not grieve at present troubles? We shall henceforth not even appear to see them. Such a thing is strong desire.(12) Those, for instance, who are not at present with us, but being absent are loved, we image every day. For mighty is the sovereignty of love,(1) it alienates the soul from all things else, and chains to the desired object. If thus we love Christ, all things here will seem to be a shadow, an image, a dream. We too shall say, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress?" (Rom. viii. 35.) He said not, "money, or wealth, or beauty," (these are very mean and contemptible,) but he hath put the things which seem to be grievous, famines, persecutions, deaths. He then spat on these even, as being nought; but we for the sake of money separate ourselves from our life, and cut ourselves off from the light. And Paul indeed prefers "neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor any other creature," to the love which is towards Him; but we, if we see a little portion of gold, are fired, and trample on His laws. And if these things are intolerable when spoken of, much more are they so when done.(2) For the terrible thing is this, that we shudder to hear, but do not shudder to do: we swear readily, and perjure ourselves, and plunder, and exact usury, care nothing for sobriety, desist from exactness in prayer, transgress most of the commandments, and for the sake of money make no account of our own members.(3) For he that loves wealth will work ten thousand mischiefs to his neighbor, and to himself as well. He will easily be angry with him, and revile him, and call him fool, and swear and perjure himgelf, and does not(4) even preserve the measures of the old law. For he that loves gold will not love his neighbor; yet we, for the Kingdom's sake, are bidden to love even our enemies. Now if by fulfilling the old commandments, we shall not be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven, unless our righteousness exceed and go beyond them, when we transgress even these, what excuse shall we obtain? He that loves money, not only will not love his enemies, but will even treat his friends as enemies.
[4.] But why speak I of friends? the lovers of money have often ignored nature itself. Such a one knows not kindred, remembers not companionship, reverences not age, has no friend, but will be ill-disposed towards all, and above all others to himself, not only by destroying his soul, but by racking himself with ten thousand cares, and toils, and sorrows. For he will endure foreign travels, hatreds, dangers, plots, anything whatever, only that he may have in his house the root of all evil, and may count much gold. What then can be more grievous than this disease? It is void of any luxury or pleasure, for the sake of which men often sin, it is void of honor or glory. For the lover of money aspects that he has tens of thousands, and really has many, who accuse, and envy, and slander, and plot against him. Those whom he has wronged hate him as having been ill-used; those who have not yet suffered, fearing least they may suffer, and sympathizing with those who have, manifest the same hostility; while the greater and more powerful, being stung and indignant on account of the humbler sort, and at the same time also envying him, are his enemies and haters. And why speak I of men? For when one hath God also made his enemy, what hope shall there then be for him? what consolation? what comfort? He that loves riches will(5) never be able to use them; he will be their slave and keeper, not their master. For, being ever anxious to make them more, he will never be willing to spend them; but he will cut short himself, and be in poorer state than any poor man, as nowhere stopping in his desire. Yet riches are made not that we should keep, but that we should use them; but if we are going to bury them for others, what can be more miserable than we, who run about desiring to get together the possessions of all men,(6) that we may shut them up within, and cut them off from common use? But there is another malady not less than this. Some men bury their money in the earth, others in their bellies, and in pleasure and drunkenness; together with injustice adding to themselves the punishment of wantonness. Some minister with their substance to parasites and flatterers, others to dice and harlots, others to different expenses of the same kind, cutting out for themselves ten thousand roads that lead to hell, but leaving the right and sanctioned road which leads to heaven. And yet it hath not greater gain only, but greater pleasure than the things we have mentioned. For he who gives to harlots is ridiculous and shameful, and will have many quarrels, and brief pleasure; or rather, not even brief, because, give what he will to the women his mistresses, they will not thank him for it; for, "The house of a stranger is a cask with holes." (Prov. xxiii. 27, LXX.) Besides, that sort of persons is impudent,(7) and Solomon hath compared their love to the grave; and then only do they stop, when they see their lover stripped of all. Or rather, such a woman doth not stop even then, but tricks herself out the more, and tramples on him when he is down, and excites much laughter against him, and works him so much mischief, as it is not possible even to describe by words. Not such is the pleasure of the saved; for neither hath any there a rival, but all rejoice and are glad, both they that receive blessings, and they that look on. No anger, no despondency, no shame, no disgrace, besiege the soul of such a one, but great is the gladness of his conscience, and great his hope of things to come; bright his glory, and great his distinction; and more than all is the favor and safety which is from God, and not one precipice, nor suspicion, but a waveless harbor, and calm. Considering therefore all these things, and comparing pleasure with pleasure, let us choose the better,(6) that we may obtain the good things to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
HOMILY LXXXVIII: JOHN xxi. 15.
"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee."
[1.] There are indeed many other things which are able to give us boldness towards God, and to show us bright and approved, but that which most of all brings good will from on high, is tender care for our neighbor. Which therefore Christ requireth of Peter. For when their eating was ended, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee." "He saith unto him, Feed My sheep."(1) And why, having passed by the others, doth He speak with Peter on these matters? He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the leader of the band; on this account also Paul went up upon a time to enquire of him rather than the others. And at the same time to show him that he must now be of good cheer, since the denial was done away,(2) Jesus putteth into his hands the chief authority(3) among the brethren; and He bringeth not forward the denial, nor reproacheth him with what had taken place, but saith, "If thou lovest Me, preside over thy brethren, and the warm love which thou didst ever manifest, and in which thou didst rejoice, show thou now; and the life which thou saidst thou wouldest lay down for Me, now give for My sheep."
When then having been asked once and again, he called Him to witness who knoweth the secrets of the heart,(4) and then was asked even a third time,(5) he was troubled, fearing a repetition of what had happened before, (for then, having been strong in assertion, he was afterwards convicted,) and therefore he again betaketh himself to Him. For the saying,
Ver. 17. "Thou knowest all things," meaneth,
"things present, and things to come." Seest thou how he had become better and more sober, being no more self-willed, or contradicting? For on this account he was troubled, "lest perchance I think that I love, and love not, as before when I thought and affirmed much, yet I was convicted at last." But Jesus asketh him the third time, and the third time giveth him the same injunction, to show at what a price He setteth the care(7) of His own sheep, and that this especially is a sign of love towards Him. And having spoken to him concerning the love towards Himself, He foretelleth to him the martyrdom which he should undergo, showing that He said not to Him what he said as distrusting, but as greatly trusting him; wishing besides to point out a proof of love towards Him, and to instruct us in what manner especially we ought to love Him. Wherefore He saith,
Ver. 18. "When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest; but when thou art old, others shall gird thee,(8) and carry thee whither thou wiliest not."
Arid yet this he did will, and desired; on which account also He hath revealed it to him. For since Peter had continually said, "I will lay down my life for Thee" (c. xiii. 37), and, "Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee" (Matt. xxvi. 35): He hath given him back(9) his desire. What then is the, "Whither thou willest not"? He speaketh of natural feeling, and the necessity of(10) the flesh, and that the soul is unwillingly torn away from the body. So that even though the will were firm, yet still even then nature would be found in fault. For no one lays aside the body without feeling, God, as I said before, having suitably ordained this, that violent deaths might not be many. For if, as things are, the devil has been able to effect this, and has led ten thousand to precipices and pits; had not the soul felt such a desire for the body, the many would have rushed to this under any common discouragement. The, "whither thou willest not," is then the expression of one signifying natural feeling.
But how after having said, "When thou wast young," doth He again say, "When thou art old"? For this is the expression of one declaring that he was not then young; (nor was he; nor yet old, but a man of middle age.(1) Wherefore then did He recall to his memory his former life? Signifying, that this is the nature of what belongeth to Him. In things of this life the young man is useful, the old useless; "but in Mine," He saith, "not so; but when old age hath come on, then is excellence brighter, then is manliness more illustrious, being nothing hindered by the time of life." This He said not to terrify, but to rouse Him; for He knew his love, and that he long had yearned for this blessing. At the same time He declareth the kind of death. For since Peter ever desired to be in the dangers which were for His sake, "Be of good cheer," He saith, "I will so satisfy thy desire, that, what thou sufferedst not when young, thou must suffer when thou art old." Then the Evangelist, to rouse the hearer, has added,
Ver. 19. "This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God."
He said not, "Should die," but, "Should glorify God," that thou mayest learn, that to suffer for Christ, is glory and honor to the sufferer.
"And when He had spoken this, He saith,(2) Follow Me."
Here again He alludeth to his tender carefulness, and to his being very closely attached to Himself. And if any should say, "How then did James receive the chair at Jerusalem?" I would make this reply, that He appointed Peter(3) teacher, not of the chair, but of the world.
Ver. 20, 21. "Then Peter turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; who also leaned on His breast at supper; and saith,(4) Lord, and what shall this man do?"
[2.] Wherefore hath he reminded us of that reclining? Not without cause or in a chance way, but to show us what boldness Peter had after the denial. For he who then did not dare to question Jesus, but committed the office to another, was even entrusted with the chief authority over the brethren, and not only doth not commit to another what relates to himself, but himself now puts a question to his Master concerning another. John is silent, but Peter speaks. He showeth also here the love which he bare towards him; for Peter greatly loved John, as is clear from what followed, and their close union is shown through the whole Gospel, and in the Acts. When therefore Christ had foretold great things to him, and committed the world to him, and spake beforehand of his martyrdom, and testified that his love was greater than that of the others, desiring to have John also to share with him, he said, "And what shall this man do?" "Shall he not come the same way with us?" And as at that other time not being able himself to ask, he puts John forward, so now desiring to make him a return, and supposing that he would desire to ask about the matters pertaining to himself, but had not courage, he himself undertook the questioning. What then saith Christ?
Ver. 22. "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"(5)
Since he spake from strong affection, and wishing not to be torn away from him,(6) Christ, to show that however much he might love, he could not go beyond His love, saith, "If I will that he tarry--what is that to thee?" By these words teaching us not to be impatient, nor curious beyond what seemeth good to Him. For because Peter was ever hot, and springing forward to enquiries such as this, to cut short his warmth, and to teach him not to enquire farther, He saith this.
Ver. 23. "Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die; yet Jesus said not(7) that he shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"
"Do not thou on any account suppose," He saith, "that I order your matters after a single rule." And this He did to withdraw them from(8) their unseasonable sympathy for each other; for since they were about to receive the charge of the world, it was necessary that they should no longer be closely associated together; for assuredly this would have been a great loss to the world. Wherefore He saith unto him, "Thou hast had a work entrusted to thee, look to it, accomplish it, labor and struggle. What if I will that he tarry here? Look thou to and care for thine own matters." And observe, I pray thee, here also the absence of pride in the Evangelist; for having mentioned the opinion of the disciples, he corrects it, as though they had not comprehended what Jesus meant. "Jesus said not," he tells us, "that 'he shall not die, but, If I will that he tarry.'"
Ver. 24. "This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true."
Why is it, that then, when none of the others do so, he alone uses these words, and that for the second time, witnessing to himself? for it seems to be offensive to the hearers. What then is the cause? He is said to have been the last who came to writing, Christ(1) having moved and roused him to the work; and on this account he continually sets forth his love, alluding to the cause by which he was impelled to write. Therefore also he continually makes mention of it, to make his record trustworthy, and to show, that, moved from thence,(2) he came to this work. "And I know," he saith, "that the things are true which he saith. And if the many believe not, it is permitted them to believe from this." "From what?" From that which is said next.
Ver. 25. "There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written."
"Whence it is clear that I could not have written to court favor; for I who, when the miracles were so many, have not even related so many as the others have, but omitting most of them, have brought forward the plots of the Jews, the stonings, the hatred, the insults, the revilings, and have shown how they called Him a demoniac and a deceiver, certainly could not have acted to gain favor. For it behooved one who courted favor to do the contrary, to reject(3) the reproachful, to set forth the glorious." Since then he wrote what he did from full assurance, he does not decline to produce his own testimony, challenging men separately to enquire into and scrutinize the circumstances. For it is a custom with us, when we think that we are speaking exactly true, never to refuse our testimony; and if we do this, much more would he who wrote by the Spirit. What then the other Apostles when they preached declared, he also saith; "We are witnesses of the things spoken,(4) and the Spirit which He hath given(5) to them that obey Him." (Acts v. 32.) And besides, he was present at all, and did not desert Him even when being crucified, and had His mother entrusted to him; all which things are signs of his love for Him, and of his knowing all things exactly. And if he has said that so many miracles had taken place, marvel thou not, but, considering the ineffable power of the Doer, receive with faith what is spoken. For it was as easy for Him to do whatever He would, as it is for us to speak, or rather much easier; for it sufficed that He should will only, and all followed.
[3.] Let us then give exact heed to the words, and let us not cease to unfold and search them through, for it is from continual application that we get some advantage. So shall we be able to cleanse our life, so to cut up the thorns; for such a thing is sin and worldly care, fruitless and painful. And as the thorn whatever way it is held pricks the holder, so the things of this life, on whatever side they be laid hold of, give pain to him who hugs and cherishes them. Not such are spiritual things; they resemble a pearl, whichever way thou turn it, it delights the eyes. As thus. A man hath done a deed of mercy; he not only is fed with hopes of the future, but also is cheered by the good things here, being everywhere full of confidence, and doing all with much boldness. He hath got the better of an evil desire; even before obtaining the Kingdom, he hath already received the fruit here, being praised and approved,(6) before all others,(7) by his own conscience. And every good work is of this nature; just as conscience also punishes wicked deeds here, even before the pit. For if, after sinning, thou considerest the future, thou becomest afraid and tremblest, though no man punish thee; if the present, thou hast many enemies, and livest in suspicion, and canst not henceforth even look in the face those who have wronged thee, or rather, those who have not wronged thee.(8) For we do not in the case of those evil deeds reap so much pleasure, as we do despondency, when conscience cries out against us, men, without, condemn us, God is angered, the pit travailing to receive us, our thoughts not at rest. A heavy, a heavy and a burdensome thing is sin, harder to bear than any lead. He at least who hath any sense of it will not be able to look up ever so little, though he be very dull. Thus, for instance, Ahab, though very impious, when he felt this, walked bending downwards, crushed and afflicted. On this account he clothed himself in sackcloth, and shed fountains of tears. (1 Kings xxi. 27.) If we do this, and grieve as he did, we shall put off our faults as did Zacchaeus, and we too shall obtain some pardon. (Luke xix. 9.) For as in the case of tumors,(9) and fistulous ulcers,(10) if one stay not first the discharge which runs over and inflames the wound, how many soever remedies he applies, while the source of the evil is not stopped, he doth all in vain; so too if we stay not our hand from covetousness, and check not that evil afflux of wealth, although we give alms, we do all to no purpose. For that which was healed by it,(1) covetousness coming after is wont to overwhelm(2) and spoil, and to make harder to heal than before. Let us then cease from rapine, and so do alms. But if we betake ourselves to precipices, how shall we be able to recover ourselves?(3) for if one party (that is, alms-doing) were to pull at a falling man from above, while another was forcibly dragging him from below, the only result of such a struggle would be, that the man would be tom asunder. That we may not suffer this, nor, while covetousness weighs us down from below, alms-doing depart and leave us, let us lighten ourselves, and spread our wings,(4) that having been perfected by the riddance of evil things, and the practice of good,(5) we may obtain the goods everlasting, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, dominion, and honor, now and ever and world without end. Amen.